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Budget 2020 must put sustainability at the top of the agenda

Sustainable development which gives equal consideration to the environment, society and the economy is key to protecting our future. With this in mind, Social Justice Ireland, in our Budget Submission, proposed the following sustainability–related measures for Budget 2020.

Commercial Air Transport Tax

Jet kerosene is not subject to Mineral Oil Tax at present, yet it is well-known that air travel is a significant polluter. In a first step to address this anomaly, and as part of a comprehensive carbon policy to meet our national targets for 2030 out to 2050, Social Justice Ireland proposes the introduction of a Commercial Air Transport Tax which would yield €210m in Budget 2020. This is in line with the ‘Polluter Pays’ Principle and the Environment Liability Directive. Airlines and business air charter companies operating in Ireland will pay a per-passenger charge of between €5 and €30, depending on destination, on all commercial flights, with a seating capacity greater than 10, departing Irish airports.

Aggregate Levy

To promote the recycling of aggregates (rocks, sand and gravel) in the building industry, and the re-use of old buildings, Social Justice Ireland proposes the introduction of an aggregate levy of €2.50 per tonne in Budget 2020 at an estimated yield of €75m.

Retrofitting and Energy Efficiency

Social Justice Ireland proposes that the PSO levy for peat be removed at a saving of €118m million, and that these funds be diverted to the development of renewable energy sources and the move to a low-carbon power system by 2050. One of the most cost-effective measures of moving towards our Europe 2020 energy targets is to increase building energy efficiency. Social Justice Ireland proposes that €130m be allocated in Budget 2020 for a retrofitting programme modelled on the Energiesprong programme in the Netherlands. 

Electric Vehicles

Social Justice Ireland proposes that the Electric Vehicle Grant be increased by €1,000 in Budget 2020, and that there should be additional resources to expand and develop the re-charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. This will require increased investment of €15m in electric vehicles in Budget 2020. 

Levy on Single Use Coffee Cups

To reduce the level of municipal waste going to landfill and promote the use of re-usable, biodegradable and compostable products, Social Justice Ireland proposes the introduction of a 15c levy on single use coffee cups in Budget 2020, to yield an estimated €96m per annum. In addition to the levy, an investment in a deposit and return scheme for sealed beverage containers of €5m in Budget 2020 would boost recycling and reduce waste.

Biodiversity and Nature

Our biodiversity and nature are a finite and vital natural resource.  In order to preserve and enhance this resource for future generations we propose an investment of €10m in Budget 2020 in the National Biodiversity Centre and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. 

Investing in the Future—the Circular Economy

Changing to a circular economy ‘where the value of products, materials and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible, and the generation of waste minimised’ presents a challenge across all sectors, but bears rewards from an economic, environmental and social standpoint. Ireland should move to develop a circular economy strategy concentrating on areas such as sustainable agriculture, bio-economy and recognition of the interconnectivity between the economy, environment and society. Social Justice Ireland proposes an allocation of €10m in Budget 2020 to begin implementation of a Circular Economy Package.

Government should also allocate €10m in additional funding to the Central Statistics Office to track Ireland’s progress on the Sustainable Development Goals and to allow expansion of the SILC, while increasing funding to the Parliamentary Budget Office by €2m.