Fianna Fáil politicians set to defend carbon tax

A group of Fianna Fáil politicians are set to mount a defense of the carbon tax at their parliamentary party’s meeting on Wednesday.

A motion to be debated at the weekly meeting comes amid unease among some Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael backbenchers over the planned increase in the carbon tax on gas and heating oil in the month next.

There have been calls from the opposition, including Sinn Féin, for the increase to be halted.

The carbon tax hike comes at a time when the cost of living crisis is high on the political agenda due to soaring energy costs, caused in part by the war in Ukraine.

The government is expected to press ahead with increases, although there are concerns about the potential political fallout.

The motion presented at the Fianna Fáil parliamentary meeting is presented by Dublin North-West TD Paul McAuliffe, Cork South-West TD Christopher O’Sullivan and Senator Malcolm Byrne.

He argues that the carbon tax solves both cost of living issues and Ireland’s climate action efforts.

He calls on party members to fully support the climate action measures of the government program.

The deal struck to form the Coalition with Fine Gael and the Green Party includes a commitment to raise the carbon tax to €100 per tonne by 2030.

The text of the motion states that Fianna Fáil recognizes “the rising cost of fuel and the impact this is having on homes and businesses across the country”.

It also acknowledges the “inspiring report” released by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calling for stronger and faster government action on the climate crisis.

The motions say, “We believe a carbon tax can solve both of these problems by providing earmarked funding for; targeted payments on energy poverty, the energy warmer houses programme, the increase in renovation subsidies and the agri-environment programme.

It says: “We fully support the climate action measures contained in the government’s program and call for their full implementation by the government.”

The increases will add approximately €1.50 per month to the cost of heating oil and €1.40 to a monthly gas bill.

On Monday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the impact of the changes was “not as significant as the political debate around it would suggest”.

“The [cost-of-living] is of far greater magnitude than the carbon tax issue that has been enshrined in legislation to address an existential crisis of our time, climate change.

He said the government needed to consider targeted measures to help households, such as changes it made to the fuel allowance.

He said ‘significant measures’ costing almost €2 billion have already been put in place to help households, including the €200 electricity credit and the reduction in excise duties on petrol and diesel.

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