The Irish Greens’ plan is to increase tax on SUV-style vehicles. The money generated “would be targeted in the first instance at those vulnerable to fuel poverty, citing help on debt management and billing systems,” Green leader Eamon Ryan stated.
Speaking to Newstalk on April 3rd, Mr. Ryan continued: “What I’ll be going to Government discussing and saying is I think particularly because those at risk of fuel poverty are the ones we really have to address is that I think it may be better at this stage to do a very targeted approach”, with “two quite universal changes” already in place, referring to the fuel allowance period.
Energy demand from transport increased by 25% between 2012 and 2019 in Ireland. The yearly 2012-2019 increases were abruptly interrupted by the pandemic, after the 2019 demand had risen to within 9% of the 2007 peak. Private cars are the transport mode with the largest energy use in Ireland. Their share of the total transport energy increased from 40% to 42% in 2020, despite their actual energy in kilotonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe) falling by 21%. In this context, it makes environmental and economic sense to target SUV-style vehicles in order to alleviate some of the pressure felt by those experiencing fuel poverty.
Alternative and additional measures, Mr. Ryan stated, will take time. “This won’t all be done in the next two weeks,” he said, pointing towards an examination of best practice in other countries where fuel allowances are varied based on wider energy prices. Some measures would be considered in the budget period, he said.
He added that roughly 700,000 households could take advantage of grants to insulate cavity walls and attics, which could bring down a home heating bill by 25%.
“You want to make sure you’re going to invest in something that is going to be future proofed,” he concluded.