EU critical of Ireland’s failure to tax environmental harm

The Environmental Pillar wish to highlight the concerns raised around the failure to make Ireland’s tax system environmentally friendly.
The Environmental Pillar, an advocacy coalition of 28 Irish environmental NGOs, is calling on the government to address the issues raised in the draft Country Specific Recommendations for Ireland published by the European Commission.
They include:

  • The need to raise the environmental friendliness of the tax system.
  • That the tax bases for consumption and environment taxes are limited by reduced rates and exemptions.
  • And that there is scope to improve the effectiveness of environmental tax instruments and remove environmentally harmful subsidies.
  • While the focus on the lack of effective environmental taxation is welcome the Environmental Pillar is disappointed that the European Commission did not make specific recommendations based on these concerns.

Spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar Charles Stanley-Smith said:
“It is vital that the Irish government take heed of these concerns. Taxing pollution and other environmental ills is a ‘win-win’ for the government especially when public finances are stretched.
“At a time when major decisions have to be made in Paris later this year regarding limiting Climate Change, and when resources are needed in Ireland for upgrading our environment and social inclusion infrastructures, it seems that the European Commission has failed to convert the understandings above into recommendations for Irish Government actions for changes that would enable Ireland to fulfill its EU Climate and Waste responsibilities.”
Such actions should include:

  • The revision of carbon tax rates and the removal of carbon tax exemptions
  • Levies on incineration, thereby boosting recycling rates
  • Paying for electricity produced by domestic solar and wind energy
  • Removing tax incentives for peat-fired power plants,
  • Increasing the REFIT rate for anaerobic digesters to encourage the development of this renewable energy technology
  • Adopting new economic instruments, including deposit/refund schemes, to enforce the polluter pays principle, encourage waste prevention and to recover valuable resources, including levies on single use items (non-rechargeable batteries, single-use cutlery etc)
  • Pursuing a more aggressive green procurement policy within all government departments, on both a national and local level.
  • Creating a fund for waste prevention initiatives and new SME ventures using innovative solutions to reduce the use of raw materials, reusing/repairing products or recycling products into new commercial commodities.
  • Levies on pesticides.

For more details on these please see: Environmental Pillar NRP submission
Environmental Pillar Submission on the draft 2015 NRP for Ireland
Draft Country Specific Report for Ireland