An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is seeking cross-party support to introduce staged increases in the existing carbon tax on fossil fuels between now and 2030, he told a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party this Monday.

"A failure to act will damage the attractiveness of our food exports," he warned."

"We want people to know what the tax will be in 2030 and how it will increase each year between now and then," he said, adding that it would apply to coal, home heating oil, diesel, petrol and gas – but not on greenhouse gas emissions from livestock.


An Taoiseach said the tax increase should happen "in a revenue-neutral way".

He listed a number of options under consideration to give the corresponding money back to citizens, from improving welfare payments or tax credits to giving each household a cheque.

We are investing in forestry and new technologies to reduce emissions from agriculture

"We are investing in forestry and new technologies to reduce emissions from agriculture, as well as renewable heat," Varadkar said, among initiatives identified so far.

However, existing plans will only allow Ireland to achieve one third of its 2030 climate targets, he warned, justifying further steps such as the carbon tax increase.

"If we are to allow one sector of the economy to increase or maintain its carbon output, then other sectors will have to reduce by more and faster," An Taoiseach added, echoing the national climate mitigation plan which assigns greenhouse gas emission reduction to all sectors except agriculture, where the goal is "carbon neutrality".

Mr Varadkar also told delegates he was trying to reduce his individual meat consumption in the context of climate change.

Creed on forestry

Fine Gael TD Pat Deering, who sits on both the agriculture and climate committees of the Oireachtas, told the Irish Farmers Journal the view from the party's TDs and senators was that "there should be more carrots than sticks – incentivisation rather than penalties".

He added that Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed had warned the meeting against holding one area of the country responsible for national afforestation needs.

Deputy Deering linked the minister's contribution to the growing discontent against large-scale forestry development in Co Leitrim.