BUDGET 2018: Greens back call to equalize cost of diesel

Immediate Release
Ireland’s leading environmental coalition welcomes the Green Party’s support of its proposal to equalise the cost of diesel and petrol in Budget 2018.
Launching its alternative budget this morning, the Greens also outlined their support for the Environmental Pillar’s proposal for the inclusion of an aggregates levy. [1][2]
The Pillar – a coalition of 26 environmental organisations – welcomes this support and believes that the taxing of environmentally damaging practices should be a key initiative of Budget 2018.
A scientific study earlier this year found that 38,000 premature deaths across the world were linked to excess emissions from diesel vehicles.  With this in mind, it is a no-brainer that we must remove the beneficial treatment diesel fuel now enjoys. [3]
As farm vehicles comprise only 5 per cent of the diesel fleet and most tractors are diesel-only, we support the continuation of the agricultural diesel subsidy.
An aggregates levy following the ‘polluter pays principle’ will also have a great range of advantages, including reducing waste and emissions, as well as regulating quarries and bringing in a chunk of revenue from a very resource-intensive sector.
We are also proposing a levy on all single-use non-compostable items such as disposable coffee cups, plastic packaging and cutlery.
These three key proposals will protect our natural environment, bring in over €200m in revenue for the state and bolster an ailing Environment Fund
The Fund supports many of Ireland’s environmental activities, from EPA’s waste prevention office to limited funding to the environmental NGO community.
Established in 2002 and financed through the plastic bag levy and landfill levy, the fund has dwindled from a peak of €62 million in 2011 to €46 million in 2015 as a result of behavioural change away from plastic bag use and a move away from landfills towards incineration. [4]
Mindy O’Brien, budgetary spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar, said:
“What we are proposing is a shift in the thinking around tax in Ireland. If we want to build a sustainable future our Budget needs to do more than just raise taxes. It needs to change people’s behaviour and the behaviour of business as well.
“We must do something to equalise the cost of diesel and petrol. The excise on diesel in Ireland is currently 22 per cent less than on petrol, yet diesel emits 15.5 per cent more greenhouse gases than petrol so an incentive to use it is not justified.
“On top of that, air pollution is the cause of around 400 deaths in Ireland and diesel fuel is one of the key contributors to that pollution.
“Every year we delay laying out a vision for the future, the less we will be able to cope in a low-carbon society. This future is coming and now is the time to change.”
[1] Green Party. Pre-Budget Submission 2018: https://goo.gl/z856cs
[2] Our submission outlines three key proposals to protect our natural environment, bring in over €200m in additional revenue, and bolster an ailing Environment Fund: https://goo.gl/1hWwAK
Implementation of a single-use non-compostable item levy
Adoption of an aggregates levy
Equalisation of price for diesel and petrol
[3] Nature (2017). Impacts and mitigation of excess diesel-related NOx emissions in 11 major vehicle markets: https://goo.gl/PZm1Nf
[4] Environmental Fund Account 2015: https://goo.gl/Kmo4DR