The government must set a plan in the next budget for the removal of more than â¬ 2 billion in fossil fuel subsidies per year; the vast majority of which are indirect supports to industry, according to the environmental pillar (PE).
The body, which represents all of the country’s major environmental groups, said the move was one of many critical steps needed to address worsening climate and biodiversity crises in Ireland.
In a pre-budget submission, he added, âWe need to eliminate these subsidies urgently. This could bring significant climate benefits, as eliminating them could reduce carbon dioxide emissions across the economy by 20% by 2030 compared to a business-as-usual scenario. “
This damaging practice should be completely eliminated over the next five years, he suggested – with the budget setting a timeline on how to do it.
The EP said the overhaul of the budget process was also overdue as there was an urgent need to mainstream sustainable development into national budgeting in order to improve the resilience of communities to the inevitable impacts of crises.
âOur current decision-making framework does not include one of the most crucial elements of our planetary and collective health: our biodiversity. We depend entirely on our natural world for our physical and mental well-being, but our national budget continually does not reflect this reality, âhe noted.
To help abandon car use in urban areas, he called for a major expansion of the bike-to-work program to include electric and used bikes.
Between 1990 and 2019, greenhouse gas emissions from transport climbed 137%, he said.
âThe sector accounts for about a fifth of our national emissions, and we need to take concrete steps to reduce its impact. Both for our climate and for our health, we must move away from car-dependent modes of transport and encourage people to opt for active and public transport, âhe stressed.
The range of recommended actions must be underpinned by a just transition, which ensures that the communities most affected by the transition to a sustainable economy âare centered and invested in every step of the way,â he added. This should be complemented by a basic income plan during the lifetime of this government, urged the EP.
He also called for a tax on aggregates used in the construction industry such as gravel and stone, to “help discourage the use of virgin resources, encourage recycling of aggregates and stimulate the reuse of existing buildings. “.
The construction industry had to shift, he said, to the use of sustainable and appropriate materials when building much needed houses in order to ensure people have high quality housing which also has the impact. the most minimal on our climate.
He also called for a substantial increase in funding for the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) to tackle biodiversity loss.
Following the onset of the financial crisis in 2008, the NPWS saw its current spending cut by more than half until last year. The EP said the service is still down 38% from 2008 funding, while the budget must set out a plan “for future increases in accordance with our legal responsibility to protect nature”.
EP spokeswoman Caroline Whyte from Feasta said: âTwo years ago the government declared a joint climate and biodiversity emergency, making Ireland one of the first countries to do so. While recently introduced legislation is certainly a welcome first step in addressing the scale of these crises, we are still waiting for the government to back what it has continually called the greatest challenge of our time with its portfolio. ”
The promises and commitments were fine, but were just words unless significant actions and investments followed, she said. “The measures we have recommended are those that have the potential to reduce emissions, protect our depleted biodiversity, improve our quality of life and create jobs at the same time.”