QUEUES formed at petrol and diesel pumps in Cork city tonight after the Government announced a €6 per tonne increase in the carbon tax.
The announced increase in Carbon Tax is expected to add approximately 2c to a litre of petrol or diesel, equivalent to an increase of approximately €36 per annum in fuel costs for a typical motorist.
The price increases come into effect from midnight.
The 1% diesel surcharge introduced last year has been replaced with a nitrogen oxide emissions-based charge and will apply to all new cars from January.
The increases have been heavily criticised by the AA who say it will not change driver behaviour and will only lead to increased revenue for the Government.
The AA warned that the increase alone will do little to encourage commuters to leave the car at home on its own and the Government must now follow through on plans to invest in sustainable transport, particularly in rural areas.
AA director of consumer affairs Conor Faughnan said: “Fuel prices naturally fluctuate as a result of international factors and, if you go back to 2014 and 2015, we were seeing prices in the low-to-mid 1.50s for a litre of petrol with these high prices having no impact on car usage as many simply didn’t have an alternative.
“Increasing the price today and in future years through increases to carbon tax will only achieve one thing, which is to generate additional revenue for Government without having any impact on our over-reliance on the private car,” Mr Faughnan added.
The non-governmental organisation body Environmental Pillar said the increases in fuel prices should be coupled with the delivery of sustainable transport methods.
Karen Ciesielski, Coordinator of the Environmental Pillar, said: “The new nitrogen oxide charge on new and imported petrol and diesel cars is welcomed, as well as moves to encourage and improve e-vehicles infrastructure.
“However, we would still like to have seen more focus on public transport and an increase in the price of diesel to match petrol and address air quality and health risks.
“Budget 2020 was an opportunity to [ensure] that the increase in the tax was enough to encourage behavioural change and reduce emission, while at the same time ensuring that those on low-incomes and in fuel poverty are protected from increasing costs.
“However, the Government has clearly gone in a different and disappointing direction,” Ms Ciesielski added.
Smokers have also been hit in the pocket with excise duty on a pack of cigarettes increasing by 50c.
An average pack of 20 will now cost €13.50. The news has been welcomed by the Irish Cancer Society. No excise duty increases on alcohol were announced by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe.