Carbon Tax would see mass protests to rival water charges

Carbon Tax would see mass protests to rival water charges
Anti Irish Water protesters greeted then Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Blackpool in 2014. Solidarity TD Mick Barry said a carbon tax would lead to similar mass protests. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney

A carbon tax could be the next water charges and lead to mass public protests, according to Solidarity TD for Cork North Central Mick Barry. 

In recent days, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has indicated that Fine Gael will propose some sort of charge on carbon emissions but has not outlined how it would work. 

He said that it would be designed to change behaviours, not to raise revenue and that households may get additional tax rebates for other expenses or see and increase in payments like the children's allowance. 

However, similar measures in other countries have led to mass protests, like the yellow vest movement currently demonstrating in France. 

Mr Barry warned that the economic cost of addressing climate change cannot be placed on the backs of the public, with more wide-ranging environmental policies being a better option. 

"There will be a powerful backlash in Irish society if the Government try to hit people in the pocket with carbon tax increases. 

"There are other, more effective, ways to tackle the climate crisis in this country. One such way would be to follow the example of Luxembourg and make public transport free of all charges," he said. 

He said that the yellow vest protests should give the government "pause for thought". 

The movement emerged in opposition to rising fuel costs and the introduction of a fuel tax, with protestors claiming that revenue is being generated from the public to pay for tax cuts for businesses and high earners. 

Mr Barry said that 100 corporations worldwide are responsible for 71% of global greenhouse gas emissions, that crisis measures should be aimed at corporate producers rather than consumers and that any increase in carbon taxes will be opposed by Solidarity.

The Taoiseach has said that a carbon tax would not be used to raise revenue, but to encourage people to shift away from carbon emission. 

"The lessons from France and Australia, and from water charges in Ireland, is that you need to bring people with you and that is why I firmly believe that if we increase carbon tax in the next budget and the budgets thereafter, [we need] to give that money back to people, put it back in their pockets so that we reward people who live low carbon-emitting lifestyles," he said. 

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