Next month’s planned increase in the Carbon Tax would be “offset” so there would not be additional costs for householders, the Taoiseach has told the Dáil.
The tax will increase the cost of gas by €1.40 per month, while oil users will see an increase of €1.50 a month.
Micheál Martin defended the Government’s position dealing with the energy crisis and said the Government had cut excise, increased the fuel allowance and had given €200 towards energy bills.
He added that the Government could not deal with the energy crisis on a “week to week basis or in terms of one tax alone”.
Mr Martin said the issue needed to be discussed with stakeholders and examine welfare, tax and climate.
He was responding to Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, who called for the planned Carbon Tax hike to be scrapped.
She said people were living in “dread, panic and fear” due to rising energy bills.
Ms McDonald told the Taoiseach that it was “crazy” that the Government “will pile pressure on with a tax hike to add to the unaffordable energy”.
She said that “it was the wrong decision at the wrong time”.
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach urged politicians to give the next generation “some quality of life” but warned that they face a horrendous future if people remain in denial about climate change.
Mr Martin said this is why the legislation around carbon tax increases must be kept in place and he believes it will be a huge challenge to reach the 2030 emissions targets.
He was responding to the Labour Leader Ivana Bacik, who said emissions in Ireland are heading in the wrong direction.
She told the Dáil that there is an over reliance on imported gas and urgent action is needed to reduce the use of fossil fuels here.
This will get worse if eight planned gas-fuelled power stations are built, she said.
The Labour Party wants a Commission established immediately to manage the Just Transition.
‘Unprecedented war’ causing price increases
The Taoiseach also told the Dail that “anyone with any degree of intelligence” knows that price increases are being caused by “an unprecedented war” preceded by a deliberate strategy to cut energy supplies.
Mr Martin said the carbon tax “is nowhere near the real cause of what is transpiring here”.
He was responding to Solidarity-PBP TD Mick Barry, who accused the Taoiseach of “the three card trick”, by putting everything down to Covid and the war in Ukraine, and ignoring profiteering, “the third card”.
Deputy Barry said price increases are being caused by profiteering “here on the home front”, including by the ESB, Bord Gáis, Tesco, and “the landlord class”.
He said that ESB profits should be used to halt price increases, and that a cheque for €2,000 should be sent to each household, funded by a 2% tax on millionaires.
“Cancel the carbon tax increase”, he said. “Don’t talk to us about a green agenda”.
“Stop with the Mary Antoinette stuff,” Mr Barry added, and he called on the Government to stop telling people to spend less time in the shower as “it’s patronising”.
Mr Martin also said that we “will need gas as a transitional fuel”.
Reporting David Murphy and Micheál Lehane