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26/10/2021

Pringle says Government must think bigger than carbon tax to tackle climate change

Pringle says Government must think bigger than carbon tax to tackle climate change

Climate change affects the whole world - not just Ireland

Deputy Thomas Pringle (Independent) has said Government must consider structural change on a larger level if it is serious about tackling climate change.

Deputy Pringle, addressing the Dáil today (Wednesday), said, “Yesterday Minister Donohoe said that carbon taxation is the single most effective climate policy, which is complete and utter nonsense.” 

He said: “Carbon taxes like this do nothing but push people into fuel poverty and actually do very little to make any sort of real change. It is not an effective way to stop people owning and driving fuel-run cars. It only forces people to pay more for the cars that they have to drive. I said yesterday that this disproportionately affects my county of Donegal, and it does.”

The deputy cited a wind and hydro project proposed more than 10 years ago through Spirit of Ireland in Kilcar, which sought to harness wind energy by using Donegal’s natural coastal valleys to provide hydro storage reservoirs. 

Deputy Pringle said the project “not only had the potential to reduce our dependence on imported energy and fossil fuels, but it would create jobs and benefit us massively economically”. 

He said if Government committed to funding a project such as that, the benefits could be endless. To achieve energy independence would require two hydro storage reservoirs, at €800 million each, but could save up to €15 billion in fossil fuel imports over five years, he said.

Deputy Pringle said: “The expertise and the technology is there. It has been done before. All that is required is commitment and a bit of ambition from the government. It’s time to think bigger.”

Deputy Pringle said Budget 2020 was full of missed opportunities and recycled, empty promises.

The deputy said: “The rent restrictions, the cessation of evictions and the nationalisation of private hospitals which occurred over the last 18 months showed that the Government does have the capacity to take steps to seriously address the housing and health crisis. How can you possibly see the immense benefit of this, to see how positively this affected so many lives, and then turn around and say ‘no, we don’t really want to do it, let’s go back to the way things were.’”

Deputy Pringle said: “Who do the political classes respond to and who do they work for? We never saw the bankers having to protest outside Leinster House to get what they wanted back in 2008.

“Yet how many years have the people of Donegal been raising the mica issue and yet they are still forced to march in Dublin to have their voices heard.”

He said former Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, told mica-affected families more than two years ago that people in Donegal cannot be treated differently to those who benefitted from pyrite redress.

Deputy Pringle said: “It begs the question of whether what was announced yesterday were new initiatives or just old, empty promises.” Similarly, he said, Budget 2022 announced free GP care for children aged six and seven, while Budget 2020 had announced free GP care for children under eight. And former Health Minister, Simon Harris, committed to deliver the roll-out of free contraception by the end of 2019.

Deputy Pringle said: “It is clear that the greenest part of this Government is the constant recycling of old promises.”

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