There was much speculation about a rise in carbon tax in the lead up to yesterday’s budget, so it has come as a surprise to many that the Government did not introduce it. Earlier this week, Tipperary Energy Agency Chief Executive Paul Kenny urged the Government not to waste the opportunity for a strong carbon tax.
After yesterday’s budget announcement, Mr Kenny has now hit out at the lack of foresight by rural TD’s blocking of the proposed carbon tax in budget 2019. “It’s precisely this type of short-term political string pulling that will leave rural Ireland poorer in the long run”. Irish homes, particularly rural homes are the highest carbon homes in Europe emitting over 60% more than the average European home.
Carbon taxation is a key tool that supports a societal switch away from high carbon fuels. There are many opportunities to avoid the tax, with significant incentives for people to do so with more government supports than ever to avoid the tax. Over 150 homes have moved from oil boilers to low cost heat pumps as part of the agency’s ground breaking SuperHomes program. The state is now funding deep retrofit (up to 50%) and specific heat pump grants (€3500) through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. For people on fuel allowance, the cost is 100% covered.
“Carbon Usage drains rural Ireland of vital funds, our continued high dependency on imported high carbon fuels is continuing to ensure rural Ireland is tied to the petrol pump and the oil boiler. The only way this will change is if people use the supports and make a change”.
There are supports for homeowners through the Tipperary Energy Agency led SuperHomes Ireland program as well as the SEAI led Warmer Homes Scheme. Community groups and sports clubs can avail of up to 50% funding for energy efficient upgrades while SMEs can avail of up to 30% through the SEAI’s Better Energy Communities Scheme.
Kenny also commented on the political short termism, “Rather than take the necessary action, promote a significant behavioural change and switch to heat pumps and electric vehicles, some rural TDs have held the government to ransom on climate action. Whom do these members of parliament think will pay the European carbon fines of several hundred million in 2 years?”