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Monday 16 September 2019

Carbon tax must go up if we are to meet targets, says Bruton

Communications Minister Richard Bruton. Photo: Tom Burke
Communications Minister Richard Bruton. Photo: Tom Burke
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Carbon taxes will have to rise to encourage a shift away from fossil fuels, the new Minister for Climate Action, Richard Bruton, has said.

The Government controversially failed to move on carbon taxes during last month's Budget, following pressure from rural TDs.

In his first speech since being appointed, Mr Bruton also said all departments had to engage with the issue, and he intended making Ireland a leader and not a laggard.

"The decisions we make now in tackling climate change will define the next century. Ireland is far off course to achieve the carbon targets which we have committed to," he said.

"Price matters when it comes to choices. We must discourage new private or public investments being made now which lock us in to high carbon patterns of living."

He said a clear signal had to be sent on what the carbon tax, currently at €20 per tonne, would be in five and 10 years' time. "It will increase and we need to set a figure on what it will be at," he said.

This would allow people to plan investment in low-emission vehicles, home heating systems and other technologies which would avoid higher bills as the tax increases.

"Increasing carbon taxes will have a strong role to play and I believe we need to set a trajectory for increasing carbon taxes between now and 2030. It is important that people have this certainty," he said.

The Government will unveil a comprehensive plan to tackle climate change and move to a low-carbon economy early in the new year, Mr Bruton added.

He told the Climate Innovation Summit: "This is a huge shared challenge. The trajectory we're on will see huge disruption. If you're a follower, you create greater costs when you finally make it, but you also forfeit the opportunities in a carbon-neutral economy.

"It's clear we need to step up our ambition and I'm determined to do that in Ireland. We're well off course in where we need to be.

"The best approach will be a new plan, which will be cross-Government, and set out actions and implementation times and we will use the sort of process we used in the Action Plan for Jobs to drive ambition in this area. I have a mandate from the Taoiseach and Government to up our ambition."

Irish Independent

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