Monday 18th September 2023
Environmental Pillar calls for establishment of Climate and Nature Restoration Fund in Budget 2024
Budget must also prioritise protecting the most vulnerable while progressing to a safer environment
The projected €65 billion surplus in the years ahead presents a unique opportunity for the establishment of a dedicated Climate and Nature Restoration Fund in Budget 2024, according to the Environmental Pillar, Ireland’s largest network of environmental groups.
In its pre-Budget statement published today, Monday 18th September, the Environmental Pillar said that such a fund could serve as a catalyst for the rejuvenation of our natural world, the revitalization of rural and coastal economies, and the provision of crucial public amenities. Among the benefits are the prospect of warmer and more comfortable homes, the expansion of renewable energy infrastructure, and a substantial improvement in our public transportation systems.
Budget policies should also safeguard vulnerable households from cost of living increases while staying committed to our long-term vision of a sustainable and biodiversity-rich Ireland, it stressed.
The Environmental Pillar is calling for the Government to:
- Ensure that spending on nature over the next four years (2024-2027) amounts to a minimum of €2bn (outside of CAP payments). Extra funding would provide for the following for example:
- Financial and practical assistance to farmers for nature restoration
- Increased personnel in state agencies with expertise in climate, ecology and other related sciences and expertise.
- Increased funding for training in nature-based solutions
- Fully funding Marine Protected Areas
- Create an €8bn Climate and Nature Restoration Fund from windfall corporation taxes to finance future climate and nature infrastructural and capital investments, including nature-based solutions.
- Maintain the trajectory of NPWS funding and staffing increases so it can coordinate the national response to biodiversity loss
- Concentrate resources on augmenting social protection payments coupled with retrofitting initiatives tailored to lower-income households.
Speaking about their budget proposals, Environmental Pillar spokesperson and Director of Friends of the Earth Oisín Coghlan said: “Ireland currently finds itself at the heart of a dual ecological challenge, grappling with both biodiversity and climate emergencies. With a projected €65 billion surplus in the years ahead we feel that the Government is now in an exceptional position to begin to address these challenges through the establishment of a dedicated Climate and Nature Restoration Fund. By investing in a sustainable and just Ireland now, we are helping to secure the future for people and the planet.”
Oonagh Duggan, Environmental Pillar spokesperson and Head of Advocacy with BirdWatch Ireland, said: “In May 2019, Dáil Éireann declared a climate and biodiversity crisis. Yet, warnings on the state of biodiversity in Ireland have grown starker; a quarter of Ireland’s bird species are in danger of extinction, and over 70% of our peatlands are in bad status. Biodiversity and climate are inextricably linked and the time to invest in nature for a sustainable future is now.”
The case for investing in climate and nature makes strong financial sense, said Caroline Whyte, Environmental Pillar and Feasta economist.
“A compelling example can be found in the business case for the Nature Restoration Law, which illustrates that every €1 invested in nature restoration yields an impressive €8 to €38 through ecosystem services that are vital for human existence. But it is equally important that we prioritise protecting the most vulnerable while we progress to a more sustainable environment. The proposals contained in this pre-budget submission aim to not only provide immediate relief to vulnerable segments of our society, but also to make steadfast progress towards a future where our environment is secure, our homes are comfortable, and Ireland’s natural world flourishes with biodiversity.”
Read the full Environmental Pillar Pre-Budget submission here https://environmentalpillar.ie/2023/09/17/environmental-pillar-budget-2024-submission/
Communications Officer Environmental Pillar