Budget completely fails to deliver Taosieach’s “new ambition on climate change”

If policy reviews and consultations reduced emissions Ireland would be a world leader in climate action

Friends of the Earth has described the Budget as a “complete failure” on climate change.

Commenting, Oisin Coghlan, Friends of the Earth Director, said

“On his election as Taosieach, Leo Varadkar said he wanted ‘a new ambition on climate change’ and Minister Naughten indicated the Budget would deliver climate action. Instead we get a drop in the bucket on energy efficiency, a few baubles on electric vehicles and a review of the carbon tax.

“I’m not sure what planet the Government is on, but it doesn’t seem to be one where Ireland has signed the Paris Agreement and committed itself to reducing climate pollution by 80%.”

On energy efficiency

The minister announced an extra €38 million for energy savings schemes, on top of the €130m the SEAI delivered in 2016.

Mr Coghlan commented:

“This is a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed. The state’s own figures indicate we need to invest €2 billion every year from now to 2030 in making homes warmer and less polluting.”

On renewable heat

The minister announced €7 million in 2018 to incentivize renewable heat generation.

Mr Coghlan commented

“On renewable heat the Government’s big mistake is the exclusion of community scale projects from the proposed support scheme. As with the exclusion of rooftop solar panels from the proposed renewable electricity support scheme, this is likely to fuel public resentment. The Government says it wants a ‘community centred’ energy transition but their plans look more like big business making money from public subsidies.”

On electric vehicles

The minister announced indicated €10m in 2018 to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles.

Mr Coghlan commented:

“The Government’s promotion of electric vehicles is like sprinkling cherries on the icing when you haven’t even started to bake the cake yet.

“Reducing benefit-in-kind tax on electric vehicles at a time when company cars are much rarer than they used to be is pretty meaningless.

“If we are serious about transport pollution we need to divert investment from roads to clean public transport, cycling and walking. There’s no sign of that in this budget.

“Then we need a million electric cars on the road by 2030 – to replace petrol and especially diesel cars. But only if we stop burning peat and coal for electricity and again there was nothing on that in this budget.”

On the carbon tax

The minister announced a review of the carbon tax.

Mr Coghlan commented:

“The big criticism of the national mitigation plan in the summer was that it was all consultations and reviews and no new decisions or actions. We were told to wait for the Budget to see new measures. Now the big reveal is a review of the carbon tax!

“If policy reviews and consultations reduced emissions Ireland would be a world leader in climate action.

“Instead we are one of only 5 EU countries that are going to miss out 2020 targets and this budget does nothing to change that.”