Green Party wants to consider higher taxation of SUV-like vehicles in 2023 budget

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan confirmed that his party wanted to look at heavier taxation of SUV-type vehicles in the budget, saying it “makes sense to use it to send a signal that we want to move to lighter, cheaper and more fuel-efficient cars”.

Mr Ryan also confirmed that the use of smart meters to encourage people to use more energy at night would be part of a package of measures to be presented to the Government the following week – along with measures to ensure that people benefit from the cheapest possible energy tariff.

He said he had spoken to the Energy Regulatory Commission about it, which was reviewing it.

Mr Ryan said the next round of support would first target those vulnerable to fuel poverty, citing help with debt management and billing systems.

He said a lot has been done on a universal basis, but “what we need to do now is focus, target those at risk of fuel poverty”.

He said the rise in bills is a shock to everyone, but has put some households in particular.

For everyone, the rising bills are a shock, but there are households, it puts them “in real trouble and in real danger”, and the efforts must be targeted at these households, so we must, I think, target our efforts on those.

He also said he wanted to look at more medium- and long-term measures, such as incentivizing wider deployment of solar photovoltaic panels.

He said the planning, regulatory and market changes would be released “within two weeks to try to help households”.

Speaking on Newstalk, Mr Ryan said: “What I will go to government to discuss and say is that I think particularly because people at risk of fuel poverty are the ones we really need to address, c I think it’s maybe best at this point to do a very targeted approach,” with “two fairly universal changes” already in place.

He said extending the fuel allowance period would be considered.

Time

Some measures, he said, will take time. “All of this won’t be done in the next two weeks,” he said, pointing to a review of best practice in other countries where fuel allowances vary with broader energy prices. Some measures will be considered during the budget period, he said.

He said 500,000 to 700,000 households could benefit from subsidies to insulate cavity walls and attics, which could cut home heating bills by 25%.

On the future of liquefied natural gas terminals in Ireland – which the Green Party opposes – he said that building such a terminal would be a medium term option, and that he believed it would be of a hydrogen processing terminal converted from renewable offshore wind energy. , which would be a less environmentally damaging option, could also be developed within the same time frame.

“You want to make sure you’re going to invest in something that will stand the test of time,” he said. Existing plans for LNG were based on increased demand, he said, which would also increase emissions.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin chairwoman Mary Lou McDonald said urgent action was needed to ease the pressures arising from the cost of living crisis. She said “the scale of this crisis in households across the country is really, really disturbing” with many homes living in a “permanent state of panic as bills land on the carpet”.

“The government cannot be a spectator in this, it must intervene,” she said. And while Sinn Féin has accepted that not all the impacts can be mitigated, more needs to be done, criticizing key coalition figures who have insisted that no further measures will come down to the budget. Sinn Féin has proposed a package of measures worth around €1.4 billion, including removing VAT costs from national energy bills. She said the government only approached the European Commission on March 10 on the matter – whose approval is needed to ensure Ireland’s historic VAT waivers continue if rates are cut.

She said there was financial “wiggle room” for the state to step in, without additional borrowing, with a surplus expected next year. She said her party was open to the idea of ​​revenue-raising measures to fund spending, arguing that “vulture funds” are tax exempt.

Asked about the carbon tax and suggestions that the savings from anticipating increases due on the carbon tax would be small – around €17 a year – she said that might be the case, but the party was against the imposition of further increases on households.

On Covid-19, she said Sinn Féin was concerned by reports that doctors and nurses were under enormous pressure, but did not explicitly support calls for the reintroduction of a mask mandate and a wider work from home counseling. She said she wanted “informed public health advice” and heard “very clearly” what health unions were saying. She said any decision to make something mandatory must be backed by public health advice. “If the public health advisory is about mandatory masks, let’s listen to that and respond,” she said.

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