Fianna Fáil are preparing election policies on climate change which include positions on carbon levies, afforestation and promoting electric car usage.
Senior party members discussed climate change policies today, some which will also feed into agreement with the Fine Gael-led government for the next budget.
A meeting of the party frontbench heard that, under government commitments, €10 will be added to a 40kg bag of coal if proposed carbon tax increases go ahead by 2030.
Furthermore, briquettes will go up by around €2.50 with an increased levy. The estimates are based on Fine Gael's commitment to raise the carbon levy from €20 a tonne to €100 by 2030.
Measures to assist farmers with decarbonisation, more retrofitting of homes and one-stop-shops in communities for access to information about climate change and alternative living will form part of new Fianna Fáil policies.
A party source said: “We are way behind [other countries] in every respect, but it can't be city against country here. Everybody has a role to play.”
While no decision was taken at the opposition party's front bench meeting on carbon taxation, environment spokesman Timmy Dooley has been tasked with coming back to the party with more definitive policies as part of a climate change strategy.
Climate change, levies and Ireland's poor record in reducing carbon output has triggered much debate recently. The government has already signalled that carbon charges, for fuel for example, will be increased in future budgets. An increase last October was stopped at the last minute.
A recent opinion poll found that two thirds of Fianna Fáil supporters oppose carbon tax increases. Nonetheless, it was pointed out at today's meeting that the party in 2012 with the Greens in government originally introduced the charge and Fine Gael today had “failed” to progress charges.
The party figure added:
“This will feed into the budget, and the next election, part of confidence and supply, and there is a general acceptance of the need to decarbonise society.”
Nonetheless, the main opposition party are also aware of the need to get support for green measures and any possible tax increases for the environment, especially in the aftermath of the water charges debacle.
“We won't talk about tax bluntly, unless we can talk about changing behaviour first,” added a party source.
Fianna Fáil also discussed how households and carbon tax contributors could be refunded. Methods such as through general taxation, a welfare payment, bulk cheques to every household or through the general economy were discussed.