Business Budget 2020

Friday 18 October 2019

'I can see the logic in raising carbon tax' - commuter who drives up to two and a half hours daily

Budget 2019: The realities of being a commuter in Ireland

Mícheál Fleming
Mícheál Fleming

David Fleming

Mícheál Fleming (27) is one of those people who gets up early in the morning - and spends up to two and a half hours a day in his car.

When on an early shift he’s up at 5am and he can work up to 70 hours per week. 

When commuting, Mícheál spends roughly two and a half hours a day in his car making the near 160km round trip from Dublin to his job in the pharmaceutical industry in Carlow.

He hasn’t always made the arduous trip by car -previously he would cycle to the train station, bring the bike on the train and then cycle to work.

But Mícheál decided to take the plunge and get behind the wheel because of work.

The Co Laois man has been driving for four years. This year his insurance was €1200. Including fuel costs and tax it costs an estimated €5,430 euro per year just to run the car, and that’s without any repairs that may be needed. 

This year's Budget is likely to see an increase in the rate of carbon tax by between €5 and €10 per tonne of CO2 emitted, in addition to the €20 a tonne already imposed on emissions. 

A move to raise the carbon tax by €10 per tonne of emissions will have an impact on Micheal’s fuel costs. 

A diesel car, such as Mícheál’s 1.6 litre Citreon, will be €38 more expensive to fill a year due to the higher tax, as the price per litre will rise by 3.27c after Vat.

"It’s a lot of money now that I think of it," Mícheál told

And though he’s not overly enthusiastic about paying the extra tax he can see the logic. 

"I generally figure that whatever’s going to come (in the Budget) is going to come. It’s never usually good news so.... I guess I can see the logic in raising it in the hopes that maybe people will get more electric or hybrid cars," Mícheál said.  

There has been some speculation that as well as hiking carbon tax, Mr Donohoe could raise the excise duty on diesel in a bid to promote electric vehicles.

"I’d be all for getting an electric car but they're expensive and I don’t know if the infrastructure is there really at the moment to make it a viable option. At the minute it’s not really a feasible option for a lot of people I’d say," Mícheál added.

"Any price hikes you just have to take them, don’t you?

"I suppose the idea behind taxes is that they’ll use that money to spend on infrastructure and whatnot and I know they don’t always spend it in the wisest ways but it’s something we have to pay in the hopes that they will do something good with it.

"I wouldn’t be overly upset about it, I guess if there was one thing I’d like to see the farmers getting taxed a bit more, I know that cows are a huge contributor to methane gas emissions around the world."

The move to increase the carbon tax has been condemned as unfair as agriculture is one of the largest emitters of carbon, but the activities of farmers are exempt from environmental taxes.

Further to increasing diesel costs, the carbon tax increase will have an impact on families using fossil fuels.

Those worst hit by the increase will be families with two diesel cars, that uses home-heating oil and some coal and briquettes.

These families are facing an extra €200 in environmental and carbon taxes.

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