The Green Party has welcomed the measures announced in Budget 2021 to protect the climate and help those on low incomes by using funds raised by the carbon tax to increase welfare allowances, retrofit homes to lower heating bills, and establish agricultural schemes to sequester carbon and increase biodiversity.
Money ring-fenced by the carbon tax in Budget 2021 will fund a €3.50 increase in weekly fuel allowance; an increase in the qualified child allowance of €5 per week for those aged 12 and over, and €2 under 12s; and a €5 a week increase in the living alone allowance. There will also be €300m allocated for major investment in a nationwide retrofitting project, which will reduce heating costs by topping up existing grants for heat pumps, solar panels, and home insulation.
Money raised by the carbon tax will also help fund a range of new results-based environmental schemes to rewet peat soils to convert them from carbon emitters to carbon sinks, to provide biodiversity training for farmers, and a new environmental scheme on a national scale under a new CAP. These schemes will help farmers plant more native trees and protect wildlife through change in farming practices.
Brian Leddin TD, Green Party spokesperson on Climate and Transport, has welcomed the range of measures for welfare, housing, and the environment that the carbon tax will support:
“In addition to the €48m in extra social welfare supports announced, the funds allocated to the Warmer Home Scheme, which provides free home energy efficiency upgrades to low income families, will almost double to €100m. The carbon tax increase will also contribute to a new pilot environmental scheme announced by Minister Pippa Hackett. The government will also be continuing support for insulation grants, cycling and greenways, Just Transition, peatlands restoration and electric vehicles from the carbon tax investment programme.
“As well as the targeted €100m for warmer homes for people on lower incomes, the existing grant schemes for sustainable homes have been expanded and 1,500 new training places have been funded for the new national retrofitting programme. I’m also pleased that over €25m has been allocated for the remediation of landfill sites, to make these sites safe and to prevent an adverse effect on the surrounding environment.”
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