Citizen's Assembly calls for carbon taxes

Carbon taxes, an end of subsidies for peat extraction, and a tax on greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are some of the recommendations made by the Citizens’ Assembly.

The report on its latest deliberation — How the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change — was yesterday laid before the Oireachtas by assembly chair, Mary Laffoy.

It made 13 recommendations by a majority vote, and a further four ancillary recommendations which came from members of the assembly.

It recommended:

  • Resourcing of a new or existing independent body “as a matter of urgency” to put climate change at the centre of policy-making in Ireland;
  • That the State should take a leadership role in addressing climate change through mitigation measures such as retrofitting public buildings and having low-carbon public vehicles;
  • That the State should undertake a comprehensive assessment of the vulnerability of all critical infrastructure with a view to “building resilience to ongoing climate change and extreme weather events”.

Some 80% of members said they would be willing to pay higher taxes on carbon intensive activities.

The assembly also backed a recommendation that the number of bus lanes, cycling lanes, and park and ride facilities “should be greatly increased in the next five years, and much greater priority should be given to these modes over private car use”.

Nearly nine out of 10 members (89%) backed a call for a tax on greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, and rewards for the farmer for land management that sequesters carbon.

Among the members’ own suggestions was that steps be taken to reduce packaging, particularly plastic packaging, and “the eradication of single-use plastics, particularly in supermarkets”, and the introduction of a deposit scheme on plastic bottles.

Reacting to the assembly’s recommendations, Joe Healy, president of the Irish Farmers’ Association, warned that the carbon tax proposal is a “no go”, but said there are other recommendations worth consideration.

Mr Healy said “increasing the existing carbon charge on farming would merely continue a failed policy of more taxes without delivering any reduction in national emissions”.

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