Concern That Irish Govt Decision To Increase Carbon Tax On Fuel Will Impact Rural Poor

9th October 2019

The UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association (UKIFDA) is concerned the effect the recent announcements in the budget yesterday will have on rural communities across Ireland.

The Irish Government announced in the budget yesterday that the carbon tax is up €6 to €26 per tonne and applies from midnight on Tuesday 8 October on automotive fuels.

Other carbon tax changes to other fuels including heating oil will come into effect in May 2020.

The 1 per cent diesel surcharge introduced last year will also be replaced with a nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions-based charge on a €/mg/km basis. The rate will increase in line with the level of nitrogen oxide emitted and will apply to cars registering for the first time in Ireland from January 1st.

UKIFDA Irish Representative Nick Hayes comments: “Rural households are being penalised by these increases. On average they use more fuel in their vehicles and in May next year those on heating oil will also be penalised. This is an anti-rural measure due to its dependence on liquid fuel as opposed to urban areas where mains gas is available.

“686,000 households in Ireland are on heating oil with just 11% of homes on oil in Dublin, compared with 76% in Monaghan and 70% in Cavan with the average across rural Ireland being 65%. Ireland is thus a very rural country and most of the population is off the mains gas grid.

“Furthermore, an estimated 400,000 households in Ireland are already suffering from fuel poverty and any additional cost on fuel will make the situation worse for them.”

UKIFDA Chief Executive Guy Pulham adds: “We will be pressing the Government for detail behind these rises to learn where this extra taxation will be spent.  We believe the money should be used to help make more energy efficiency measures available to rural communities and in particular those on oil as they are the ones being penalised through the rises. Funding created through carbon taxes on heating oil should be used in the short-term, to encourage consumers to replace old boilers with modern condensing boilers, improve insulation, and fit smart metering controls which will all improve current emissions.  It doesn’t and shouldn’t mean, forcing oil users to change to inappropriate, inefficient technologies. The increased taxation should be used to assist these households and not potentially create a deepening fuel poverty issue in Ireland.

“Our concerns to Government will be expressed alongside a keenness to work with the Department of Finance to establish a way to reduce the country’s carbon footprint and overcome any potential issues following this tax rise.

“We are fully aware of the need for Ireland to reduce its carbon footprint and want to work with Paschal Donohoe to help find a solution for the environmental concerns.

“Initially, using biofuels, consumers can change the fuel and not the heating system as a 30% blend of biofuel with kerosene would work well with current oil boilers and infrastructure. It is also a more environmentally friendly fuel with lower carbon emissions.  Over time, as the blend increases to 100% biofuel, boilers can be replaced – but the transition would enable consumers to cut carbon emissions today without a big financial outlay straightaway.

“To date though, all our requests to meet with the Government alongside other trade bodies in the Industry have been ignored and what’s more frustrating is the Irish Government’s continued focus on electrification of heat using heat pumps for those off-grid and does not consider the high price consumers would have to pay to change existing appliances and upgrade homes.  Ireland’s housing stock is among the least energy efficient in Northern Europe and many are not suitable for heat pumps – to retrofit would be expensive, especially as so many would need to improve insulation, or the running costs would be too much.

“Our industry has a solution and we urge the Government to engage with the industry.”

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