Ireland wins Gold in European Fossil Fuel Subsidies Awards

Ireland has been awarded gold in the ‘Sneaky Special Treatment’ category of the European Fossil Fuel Subsidy Awards, held today in Brussels. Climate Action Network Europe and a coalition of NGOs staged the awards this morning, marking the culmination of online nominations, public voting and campaigning. From 10 April until 8 May, the European public voted on the deadliest, dirtiest and sneakiest subsidies to fossil fuels in Europe, and today Ireland was crowned number one for giving Sneaky Special Treatment to peat-burning for electricity generation.

Meaghan Carmody, mobilization coordinator of Stop Climate Chaos said:

“The peatlands are Ireland’s Amazon and we simply have to stop subsidizing their destruction. Burning peat produces just 9% of our electricity but 22% of our climate pollution from power generation. The Government needs to sit down with Bord na Móna, the unions, the communities and ourselves right now to plan a rapid and just transition to a more sustainable future.”

Irish consumers pay surcharges, amounting to €120 million in 2017, on their electricity bill to compensate for the ESB’s burning of peat mined by Bord na Móna. Burning peat for electricity generation is not only uneconomic, its carbon footprint is much more damaging compared to other fossil fuels, notably because of its high inefficiency and damage to natural carbon sequestering bogs.

Catherine Devitt of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, and policy coordinator for Stop Climate Chaos said:

Fossil fuel subsidies show the hypocrisy and inconsistency of Irish government policies when it comes to climate change. We signed up to the Paris Agreement to try to limit global warming to 1.5C and yet we are still subsidizing peat-burning for electricity. This is completely contradictory, and this award brings that hypocrisy to light.”

The awards bring attention to the many ways that European governments are using taxpayers’ money to fuel climate change by burning fossil fuels, and aims to heighten awareness of these subsidies in order to increase the pressure to phase them out. Fossil fuel subsidies represent an economic dead-end, especially in times of scarce public resources and in the light of investments required to ensure the clean energy transition.

Other winners include Poland, who cruised to gold in the Deadly Funding category for misusing EU funds to burn coal, and Norway topped the Dirty Tax Gift leader-board for using taxpayers’ money to support arctic oil exploration.

Ireland was nominated for this award by Stop Climate Chaos, a coalition of NGOs campaigning for Ireland to do its fair share to tackle climate change.