The Government’s climate change plan requires massive capital spending which is not available because it refuses to challenge EU spending rules, according to Róisín Shortall TD.

The co-leader of the Social Democrats said the National Mitigation Plan published today was an exercise in wishful thinking, as the government is not in a position to invest in the 106 actions it outlines.

Deputy Shortall said:

“Today we see a national plan which amounts to a repackaging of existing commitments. Yet the key to actually transforming the country to achieve reductions in carbon emissions is substantial investment – and the number one blockage is the lack of ambition in the government’s capital plan.

“Without flexibility on the fiscal rules in relation to capital funding, we are not going be able to achieve emissions targets. This means that the country will continue to face huge fines for failing to meet climate change targets, which could amount to several hundred million euro a year.

“The paltry amount devoted to capital investment in last week’s Summer Economic Statement lays bare the government’s huge mistake in not earmarking any of the proceeds from the sale of AIB shares for infrastructure projects. The government is making the same mistake now by promising further cuts to income taxes which will further erode the tax base.”

Deputy Shortall added:

“It’s clear that the EU’s fiscal rules on capital investment are completely inappropriate for Ireland’s economic situation and climate change ambitions. The rules are a straight jacket which are damaging the management of the economy and the environment. Yet there is no evidence that the government has even challenged these. Without some kind of break-through we aren’t going to deal with the severe under-investment in capital spending which makes today’s plan nothing more than an exercise in wishful thinking.”

ENDS

19 July 2017