A projected €65bn surplus in Budget 2024 presents an opportunity to pay farmers for nature restoration, according to the Environmental Pillar.
The group, which represents a network of environmental stakeholders, said there should be a specific €8bn Climate and Nature Restoration Fund in this year’s budget.
The package should be funded by windfall corporation taxes to finance future climate and nature infrastructural and capital investments, it said.
In its pre-Budget statement published on Monday, the Environmental Pillar said that such a fund “could serve as a catalyst for the rejuvenation of our natural world, the revitalization of rural and coastal economies, and the provision of crucial public amenities”.
The pillar called on Government to ensure that spending on nature over the next four years (2024-2027) amounts to a minimum of €2bn (outside of CAP payments). It said that extra funding would provide for financial and practical assistance to farmers for nature restoration.
It would also fund increased personnel in state agencies with expertise in climate, ecology and other related sciences and expertise.
The trajectory of National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) funding and staffing increases should also be maintained, the environmentalists propose, so it can coordinate the national response to biodiversity loss.
Environmental Pillar spokesperson and director of Friends of the Earth Oisín Coghlan said: “Ireland currently finds itself at the heart of a dual ecological challenge, grappling with both biodiversity and climate emergencies.
“With a projected €65 billion surplus in the years ahead we feel that the Government is now in an exceptional position to begin to address these challenges through the establishment of a dedicated Climate and Nature Restoration Fund,” he said.