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Umbrella Action Day for a Price on Carbon Pollution

10 Jun 2008

Umbrella Action Day 2008 is on Sandymount Strand, Dublin at 3pm on Sunday 15th June.

On Sunday, June 15th at 3 p.m. people will gather at the Martello Tower in Sandymount, Dublin, to demand that the government act on climate change. But instead of placards, they will have umbrellas in their hands. Directed by leading choreographer, Muirne Bloomer, who has choreographed such events as the opening ceremony of the Ryder Cup, they will dance on the strand and become a sea of waving umbrellas. This second Umbrella Action Day, organised by the Stop Climate Chaos [1], will graphically illustrate Ireland's record on greenhouse gas emissions compared with that of other countries.

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Oisin Coghlan, spokesperson for the coalition, said
"Last year we pressed the new Dáil and the incoming Government to take climate change seriously. One year on we're telling them how to start reducing Ireland's outsized carbon footprint. We're going back to the beach to demand the Government put a clear, fair, price on carbon across the whole economy".

Since the Kyoto clock starting ticking on 1 January this year we're all paying a price for Ireland's appalling record of pollution. For every tonne of greenhouse gases Ireland emits over and above our Kyoto target the Government has to buy a pollution permit overseas to cover it [2]. The Government has already put €290 million aside for this purpose and with the price of carbon credits now above €25 a tonne the total could easily double before the end of the Kyoto period in 2012. This money is coming from general taxation so no matter now much you reduce your carbon footprint you still have to pay. It's a stealth tax, there's no incentive for anyone to cut their pollution.

"Rather than picking the pockets of PAYE taxpayers to buy pollution permits the government should put a clear, fair, price on carbon that rewards those that reduce their footprint and penalises those that pollute profligately," Mr Coghlan continued.

So the real question is not whether but how carbon is to be priced. The last Government promised a carbon tax which was first delayed and then dropped. The Programme for Government negotiated exactly a year ago this week promises the introduction of a carbon levy, but fear is growing that the Commission on Taxation, whose full report is not due until late next year, is being used to delay implementation.

"It's exactly 10 years since Minister Dempsey agreed our Kyoto target and first called for a carbon tax to help achieve it. After a decade of inaction we have no more time for dithering and procrastination. With the Kyoto clock ticking, we need to see a carbon price in December's Budget," Mr Coghlan concluded.

Umbrella Action Day on Sunday is a chance for people out to remind our politicians that doing our fair share to tackle climate change is of vital and immediate importance.


[1] The members of Stop Climate Chaos Coalition are: Action Aid, Afri, An Taisce, Birdwatch Ireland, Cap and Share, Christian Aid, Climate Action Ireland Platform, Comhlámh, Concern, Cultivate, Eco-Congregation, Eco-Unesco, Feasta, Friends of the Earth, Friends of the Irish Environment, Gorta, Just Forests, Kimmage Development. Studies Centre, Latin America Solidarity Centre, Methodist Church of Ireland- Council of Social Responsibility, Mountmellick Environmental Group (MEG), National Youth Council Ireland, Oxfam Ireland, People Against Climate Change, Presentation Centre for Policy and Systemic Change, Progressio, Ireland Students Against Climate Change, Sustain West Cork, Trócaire, VITA, Voice.

[2] Our Kyoto target is to limit greenhouse gas emissions to an average of 63 million tonnes (mt) a year from 2008 to 2012. The latest figures from the EPA show our pollution running at 70mt, a 7mt overshoot each year every tonne of which will need a pollution permit. New policy measures may reduce this and large industrial polluters will but their own permits in the EU's emissions trading scheme. But the Government has made provision to buy permits to cover 3.6mt each year for the next five years. At current prices that will cost taxpayers €494 million.

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