Proposals for the 2012 Budget: A Sustainable Future for Ireland

Download:Prosposals for the budget 2012

The Environmental Pillar, which is a coalition of 27 national environmental NGOs, was established as a National Social Partner by Government in April 2009. In making this submission to Government it recognises that the public are reeling from the shock of the economic and fiscal crises. However it urges the Government to realise that Ireland actually faces two major and interlinked crises, firstly an environmental one and secondly an economic one.
Whilst it is clear that a very serious economic crisis is upon us, with sadly many thousands of people unemployed, the consequences of rapid climate change and general environmental degradation are likely to be far worse, and without better decision-making now, major long term costs will be incurred.
It is essential then that in dealing with the economic crisis the government applies the principles of sustainable development as described in Agenda 21 in all its decisionmaking.
No decision should be made without first assessing the environmental consequences of that action. This should be done using the processes of Strategic Environmental Assessment laid down in the EU Directive 2001/42/EC even where it is not required under the Directive, or using the Regulatory Impact Analysis processes.
Whichever route is taken it should be a participatory process as provided for in the Aarhus Convention. This submission recommends ways of broadening the tax base and using the limited financial resources in a way that focuses on long term sustainability, whilst creating employment and stimulating the economy in the short term.
Our economy needs to focus strongly on creating resilience to the outside forces of global change. In this context our government structures must support sustainable management of our natural resources to strengthen food and energy security, to mitigate the impacts of climate change and to ensure ‘eco-system services’ that provide public benefit are not further degraded. Fundamental to this is the need to employ for example land use grants to promote carbon sequestration, sustainable forestry and farming, flood mitigation and indigenous food production. Protecting our terrestrial and marine natural infrastructure is a legal requirement, and ensuring our ‘natural capital’ is in a position to provide multiple public benefits should be high in prioritising spending and as well as in policy development. In fulfilling this requirement jobs will be created, imports reduced, energy saved, and the economy
strengthened for both the long and short term.
It is the position of the Environmental Pillar that as decisions are made by government on the provisions for the Budget each decision must take into account the issues of sustainability alluded to above and described in more detail in the body of the
This submission was developed using the Environmental Pillar processes but is not necessarily the policy of each member group in the pillar.