Government accused of climate change 'tokenism' over planned carbon tax rises

The Government has been accused of climate change "tokenism" over its planned carbon tax rises amid ministerial warnings the opposition is making "lazy" claims environmental changes can take place "without any costs".

Government accused of climate change 'tokenism' over planned carbon tax rises

The Government has been accused of climate change "tokenism" over its planned carbon tax rises amid ministerial warnings the opposition is making "lazy" claims environmental changes can take place "without any costs".

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe clashed over the issue during a debate which also saw Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin demand an inquiry into the "environmental vandalism" destruction of a Dublin wetlands.

Speaking during the latest Dáil leaders questions debate, Ms McDonald hit out at the Government over its plans to increase the existing carbon tax by a rumoured €6-10 in the October 8 budget.

Labelling the move as "tokenism", Ms McDonald said the reality is evidence from other countries shows the introduction of a carbon tax does little to help improve the environment.

The Sinn Féin leader said any Government climate change response that is limited to "half measures" like carbon taxes is "simply not going to cut it" and that "it has to be about systemic change and you don't seem to have the belly for that".

However, despite the claims, Mr Donohoe hit back by accusing Ms McDonald and other opposition parties of "hypocrisy" by making "lazy" claims environmental changes can take place "without any costs" involved.

"Tokenism will not cut it, but hypocrisy will not cut it either. We have a plan.

"The climate action plan that was laid out by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Bruton, and the Taoiseach laid out how in the years to come we will invest more in ensuring renewable energy plays a larger part in our economy," Mr Donohoe said.

The clash came as Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin separately called on the Government to launch an "inquiry" into weekend revelations south Dublin county council crucial wetlands at Sean Walsh Memorial Park in Tallaght.

Calling on the Government to "initiate an inquiry into what happened", Mr Martin said what happened amounts to "environmental vandalism" and that it requires answers from those responsible.

Responding to the concerns, Culture Minister Josepha Madigan confirmed the reasons for what happened are "being looked into at the moment" and that all appropriate action will be taken.

The debate occurred after Labour echoed calls from Solidarity-People Before Profit last week for a promised fuel poverty review to take place before any hike in carbon taxes is imposed.

With just a fortnight to go until the budget, Labour TDs Sean Sherlock and Jan O'Sullivan said the review is needed, stressing Government must ensure vulnerable people do not face burdensome extra costs.

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