Comhar, the Sustainable Development Council, has called on the Government to take immediate steps towards implementing a carbon levy in Ireland, as agreed in the Programme for Government 2007-2012.
The Council believes that Budget 2008 should lay the foundations for the phased introduction of a carbon levy over the next five years.
In his latest fortnightly commentary, Professor Frank Convery, Chairperson of Comhar, warns that the Government target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 3% per year over the next five years will only be met if the carbon levy is introduced.
Professor Convery outlines how Comhar believes the carbon levy could be successfully introduced. The Council has made a number of recommendations to Government in advance of the forthcoming Budget, including -
* The carbon levy should not be imposed on emissions from firms included in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.
* Using the partnership model, the revenues generated from the carbon levy should be recycled to sectors paying the levy - but only in ways that further intensify the impacts on energy efficiency and carbon reduction.
* Vehicle Registration Tax and annual motor tax should be adjusted to favour CO2 efficient cars, as a step towards shifting all of the tax onto fuel.
* These initiatives need to be complemented by the provision of focused and timely information and by research and development that supports and sustains the development of new, better and cheaper ways of reducing emissions.
Professor Convery argues that, if the Government takes the steps recommended by Comhar, Ireland will become a leader in Europe in addressing climate change and will meet its targets in this regard.
In addition, he says, such steps would result in Exchequer savings of €75million, would eliminate serious fuel poverty and would lead to a reduced risk of brown-outs, reduced air pollution and less vulnerability to supply interruption and price spikes.