Budget 2018 falls embarrassingly short of tackling Air Pollution and Climate Change

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The Environmental Pillar has expressed extreme disappointment at the exclusion of any measures to equalise the cost of diesel and petrol in Ireland in Budget 2018.

We expected to at least see some moves toward disincentivising diesel use, given the growing body of evidence on the damaging impact of its use on our climate and health.

Diesel fuel exhaust is one of the leading emitters of automotive greenhouse gases and particulates, with the World Health Organization clear that diesel exhaust fumes can cause cancer and emit ten times more health-damaging pollutants than petrol cars. [1]

Diesel is charged at 11c less per litre than petrol and as a result, we have one of the highest percentage sales of diesel cars in Europe.

Of new private cars purchased in 2015, diesel accounted for 83 per cent of kilometres driven by private vehicles. This needs to change, and fast. [2]

The OECD has recommended equalising the rate, while the European Commission has called Ireland’s policy of taxing diesel less than petrol “environmentally unjustified”. [3]

We need to catch up with the rest of Europe who are moving away from the combustion engine and taking progressive steps toward phasing out the sale of petrol and diesel cars. [4]

While the Pillar does welcome the inclusion of some incentives for the use of electric vehicles, it will take a long time to make a difference and is essentially meaningless in the short term if we do nothing to curb our use of diesel vehicles now.

Despite support from several opposition parties, the Pillar’s two other proposals for a levy on all single-use non-compostable items and an aggregatves levy were also not taken on in Budget 2018.

These three key proposals would have protected our environment, brought in over €200m in revenue for the state and bolstered an ailing Environment Fund.

The Fund supports many of Ireland’s environmental activities, from EPA’s waste prevention office to limited funding  for the environmental NGO community.

Oisin Coghlan, budget spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar:

“We’re very disappointed at the decision to avoid taking any steps whatsoever toward equalising the cost of diesel and petrol, especially in light of the recent Dieselgate scandal.

“As Minister Naughten has continually repeated, air pollution is estimated to cause four deaths per day in this country and diesel fuel is a key contributors to that pollution.

“Yet, today, there is nothing in the Budget, which reflects this urgency to remove the beneficial treatment diesel fuel enjoys in our country.

“We highlighted three effective “polluter pays” levies with the potential to raise over €200 million in revenue and protect our environment.

“Unfortunately for us, and for the Irish people, the Government has decided to go down another line.”

Ends

[1] International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) (which is part of the World Health Organization), Diesel Engine Exhaust Carcinogenic: https://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2012/pdfs/pr213_E.pdf

[2] Tax Strategy Group. Environmental Taxes paper.  http://www.finance.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/TSG17-08-Environmental-Taxes-Paper-Final.pdf 

[3] European Commission, 2017 European Semester: Country Report – Ireland: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/2017-european-semester-country-report-ireland-en.pdf

[4] UK Government, Plan for roadside NO2 concentrations published, 2017: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/plan-for-roadside-no2-concentrations-published

adminBudget 2018 falls embarrassingly short of tackling Air Pollution and Climate Change