Politicians must not be dishonest in any way about the impact carbon tax will have on a number of sectors including agriculture, according to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Speaking in a Dáil debate on Wednesday 21 November, he said: “It [carbon tax] means that it will be more expensive for people to fill their cars with diesel or petrol. It will increase the cost of transport for the haulage industry, have impacts on agriculture and make it more expensive to buy electricity and gas.”
He said any adaptations to mitigate the effects of an increased carbon tax would take time and that in some cases it would not be possible because of where people lived.
Outside of tax and regulation, Varadkar said that investment would be an important part of tackling climate change. For agriculture, he said there would need to be big changes such as “much more forestry” and investment in technologies like beef genomics.
However, he said that tax had to be part of the solution: “The best way to get this [carbon tax] done, unlike in the case of water, would be on a cross-party basis and to agree on a trajectory over 10 years.”
When setting a trajectory, Varadkar said he favoured carbon tax increasing in increments up to 2030 until it reached an agreed price.
He suggested this be “something like €80 per tonne”.
He emphasised the importance of learning from the mistakes of other countries and mistakes made in Ireland when trying to introduce water charges.
“It is an area we need to get right. I am conscious of what happened in Australia where the government tried and failed to bring in a carbon tax and the country has been set back by 10 or 20 years as a result,” he said.
He also noted the protests faced by French president Emmanuel Macron over taxes on fuel. In France, planned tax increases will see diesel prices rise by 6.5c/l and petrol rise by 2.9c/l. There have been widespread protests as a result with motorists blockading roads at over 2,000 different locations.