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Higher renewable energy target welcome But no whole-of-government strategy in Carbon Budget

15 Oct 2008

Carbon Budget Reaction


Friends of the Earth welcomed the increase in the target for renewable energy in today's Carbon Budget but criticised the Government's overall response to climate change as "too patchy, too piecemeal and too slow".

Oisin Coghlan, the organisation's Director, said

"The decision to raise the target for renewable energy to 40% is significant and welcome. It is what Friends of the Earth called for two years ago and it's good to see the Government has now adopted it. But overall climate policies are too patchy, too piecemeal and too slow. There's no sign of a coherent strategy to deliver on the Government's commitment to reduce emissions by 3% a year."

"My fear is that the Government as a whole doesn't get it yet. They don't get the urgency of climate change, they don't get the risks we face. Otherwise we would be seeing much more comprehensive measures."

"They only way to ensure that all Ministers take responsibility for reducing emissions in their sectors is to put climate policy on a statutory footing with the kind of climate change bill that the UK parliament will be passing into law later this month, after a three year campaign by Friends of the Earth."

"For example, Fianna Fail-led governments have been talking about introducing a carbon levy for exactly 10 years now, but have so far proved unwilling to grasp the nettle. As a result, the taxpayer is facing a €700 million bill for Ireland's failure to meet our Kyoto targets. A carbon levy would make the polluter pay rather than the taxpayer. And it would reduce the our Kyoto costs by rewarding all those that reduced their footprint."

"Minister Lenihan has promised a 'firm announcement' on the carbon levy in next year's Budget. But we have been here before in 2002, when the firm announcement was to introduce the levy in 2005, before Charlie McCreevy ditched the idea. The only announcement that will be acceptable next year is a decision that a carbon levy will come into effect on 1 January 2010."

Friends of the Earth also criticised the structure of the Carbon Budget. A Carbon Budget should deal with emissions in the way the financial Budget deals with spending. It should set the overall target for the year ahead, allocate that overall total between sectors and assign responsibility to individual ministers to deliver the required cuts. Instead the Carbon Budget gives emissions figures for last year and outlines measures to reduce future emissions. But it is not a Budget in the way we all understand the word. Minister Lenihan would not get away with presenting our financial situation and plans in the same way. Next year's Carbon Budget will need to be much more rigorous if it is to deliver the Government's commitment to reduce emissions by 3% a year.

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