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Delivering a Green Recovery in Budget 2022
Budget 2022 provides an opportunity to ensure that our investment strategy supports the ambition of the climate action plan, a just transition to a green economy, emission reductions, and builds a vibrant society and economy.
Social Justice Ireland proposes that Budget 2022 equalise the excise duty on diesel and petrol by increasing the excise duty on Diesel by 6c per litre and decreasing the excise duty on Petrol by 6c per litre to yield €114m. We propose that €22m be allocated to a commercial diesel rebate fund to compensate those most affected. Air travel is a significant contributor to transport emissions. Social Justice Ireland proposes the introduction of a Commercial Air Transport Tax in Budget 2022 to yield €204m. This is in line with the ‘Polluter Pays’ Principle and the Environment Liability Directive. Airlines and business air charter companies operating in Ireland would pay a per-passenger charge of between €5 and €30, depending on destination, on all commercial flights with a seating capacity greater than 10 people departing Irish airports.
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 2022. This would generate an estimated yield of €75m.
Retrofitting and Energy Efficiency
One of the most cost-effective measures for meeting our emission and energy targets is to increase building energy efficiency. Social Justice Ireland proposes that €85m be allocated in Budget 2022 for a retrofitting programme modelled on the Energiesprong programme in the Netherlands with €10m targeted for improving ventilation in public buildings. In addition, €100m should be invested in the development of renewable energy sources. €2m of this should be ringfenced to establish a network of community energy advisors to engage with and inform people and households in energy poverty and hard-to-reach energy users. The PSO levy should be reorganised according to average demand. This would ensure that each sector is responsible for the proportion of renewable electricity that it gives rise to. This is a first step to ensure that Data Centres make an appropriate contribution to Ireland’s renewable energy targets.
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 to yield €56m and an investment of €82m in a deposit and return scheme for sealed beverage containers in Budget 2022. This would boost recycling and yield an economic return of approximately €96m per annum.
Biodiversity and Nature
Natural capital spending in areas such as rural ecosystems, biodiversity and expanding parkland are identified as fast-acting climate friendly policies that will have an immediate impact and long-term returns. Budget 2022 should invest €10m in the National Parks and Wildlife Service and in the National Biodiversity Centre to scale up policies to support biodiversity, develop and implement an ambitious and effective Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, and mainstream biodiversity into economic decision-making.
Investing in the Future—the Circular Economy
Moving 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. Social Justice Ireland proposes an allocation of €10m in Budget 2022 to begin the rollout of the Circular Economy Strategy concentrating on areas such as sustainable agriculture, bio-economy, and recognition of the interconnectivity between the economy, environment and society.
Fossil fuel subsidies and tax expenditures
In Budget 2022 Government should begin the process of ending fossil fuel subsidies and environmentally harmful tax expenditures. These not-insignificant resources (€2.4bn in revenue foregone in 2018) should be invested in in renewable energy, addressing energy poverty and a deep retrofitting programme for homes and community facilities.
As a first step Government should review all fossil fuel and environmentally harmful subsidies, introduce sunset clauses where necessary and divert these funds to renewable energy programmes.
Ensuring a Sustainable Recovery and a Just Transition
Integrate a Sustainable Development Framework into economic policy. This would ensure that policies are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. A sustainable development framework integrates environment, society and the economy in a balanced manner with consideration for the needs of future generations. Maintaining this balance is crucial to the long-term development of a sustainable resource-efficient future for Ireland.
Develop a new National Index of Progress. Government should develop a new National Index of Progress encompassing environmental and social indicators of progress as well as economic ones. This would involve moving beyond simply measuring GPD, GNI and GNI*, and including other indicators of environmental and social progress such as the value of unpaid work to the economy and the cost of depletion of our finite natural resources.
Investment must be underpinned by a Just Transition Strategy. One of the fundamental principles of a Just Transition is to leave no people, communities, economic sectors or regions behind as we transition to a low carbon future. Transition is not just about reducing emissions. It is also about transforming our society and our economy, and investing in effective and integrated social protection systems, education, training and lifelong learning, childcare, out of school care, health care, long term care and other quality services. Social investment must be a top priority of transition because it will support those people, communities, sectors and regions who will be most impacted as we transform how our economy and society operates.
Read the full text of our Budget Choices 2022 Policy Briefing - Delivering a Fair Recovery - HERE.