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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Emissions tax for farmers backed by Citizens' Assembly

Dancers from Dublin Youth Dance Company performed in Malahide, in a collaboration with Stop Climate Chaos to host ‘Dance for Climate Action’ – a celebration of the Citizens’ Assembly. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
Dancers from Dublin Youth Dance Company performed in Malahide, in a collaboration with Stop Climate Chaos to host ‘Dance for Climate Action’ – a celebration of the Citizens’ Assembly. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Margaret Donnelly and Laura Lynott

Farmers could face taxes for greenhouse gas emissions produced from farming, if the views of the Citizens' Assembly are backed by the Government.

Farmers could face taxes for greenhouse gas emissions produced from farming, if the views of the Citizens' Assembly are backed by the Government.

This weekend, 100pc of the assembly recommended the State should take a leadership role in addressing climate change.

There was also 89pc backing for a move to tax greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, while there should be rewards for the farmer for land management that sequesters carbon.

The assembly also voted (97pc) that the State should end all subsidies for peat extraction and instead spend that money on peat bog restoration, phased out over five years, while 99pc called for a State review of supports for land use diversification, with attention to supports for planting forests and encouraging organic farming.

The assembly voted on 13 recommendations to be taken forward to the Oireachtas in the new year, with 80pc recommending they'd be willing to pay higher taxes on carbon-intensive activities.

Chair Mary Laffoy, at the Citizens’ Assembly at the Grand Hotel in Malahide. Photo: Arthur Carron
Chair Mary Laffoy, at the Citizens’ Assembly at the Grand Hotel in Malahide. Photo: Arthur Carron

Any such measures implemented by Government are likely to spark fears the agricultural sector could be financially penalised as Ireland attempts to become a climate change leader.

Ambitious

In a move showing strong support for a greener Ireland, 93pc voted for bus and cycle lanes, along with park and ride facilities, being "greatly increased" within five years. These voters said much "greater priority" should be given to environmentally friendly transport over private cars by the State.

Some 96pc want to see an expanded network of charging points to support the transition to electric vehicles.

The same number voted for the introduction of incentives, including help-to-buy schemes, reductions in motor tax, and lower, or free, motorway tolls, particularly in rural communities, to transfer to electric vehicles.

Assembly chair Mary Laffoy said the "ambitious" recommendations were "likely to have the support of the public and in turn allow us to meet our existing international and European obligations".

The recommendations will be brought forward to the Oireachtas in the new year.

Irish Independent

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