Families face 10pc hike in price of coal and peat next year
HOUSEHOLDERS will be hit with a 10pc hike in their fuel bills from the summer after the carbon tax was extended to coal and peat.
The move, announced yesterday, will result in the price of a 40kg bag of coal rising to €18 from €16.20 (up 11.1pc). The price of a bale of briquettes will rise from €3.85 to €4.24 (10.1pc).
The measure is contained in the Climate Change Bill, which is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which cause climate change.
But Environment Minister John Gormley said the hikes would not be introduced until the fuel allowance was increased to help the poor.
Introduced in the 2010 Budget, carbon tax already applies to petrol, diesel, home heating oil and natural gas and is expected to take in €330m a year.
Part of the tax take was to be ring-fenced to help people unable to heat their homes. There was widespread criticism when the Budget included a one-off payment of €40 to poorer households to cover fuel bills, which was seen as inadequate.
But the minister said this would be increased before the carbon tax was extended, as the elderly and the poor relied on open fires to heat their homes.
"This will only be done if we bolster the fuel allowance," he told the Irish Independent.
"Negotiations between the departments of social welfare and finance have to continue.
"As far as I'm concerned, we can't concentrate on those fuel types because poorer people rely on them."
The Climate Change Bill, to be published next week, is designed to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions being produced by burning fossil fuels. It requires deep cuts to be made in carbon emissions to meet legally-binding EU targets and move Ireland to a low-carbon economy and prevent dangerous climate change.
Emissions will have to fall by 2.5pc a year, or by 1.6 million tonnes. This would be the equivalent of turning off the heat and light in 300,000 homes for a year.
Friends of the Earth welcomed the bill, but said five-year targets should be included to help drive changes in policy.
Mr Gormley admitted the success of the bill depended on the next government.