Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly, Barry Cowen, has called on the Minister for Communications, Richard Bruton, to ensure the just transition fund promised for the midlands is protected in law.

The Climate Action (Amendment) Bill which was published today seeks to cover a myriad of new climate change measures including a ban on the sale of fossil fuel cars by 2030, carbon budgeting and the establishment of decarbonisation targets for each sector.

However, it does not commit to the ring fencing of revenues from the carbon tax, despite a commitment to do so in the March 2019 report of the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action.

Speaking Deputy Cowen said, “It is disappointing to again see no action on the Government’s plans to ring-fence the carbon tax in the upcoming Climate Action (Amendment) Bill. Without a legislative underpinning, the carbon tax could be used by future Governments to fund overspending or tax cuts for those on higher incomes instead of supporting a just transition as has been promised.

“It is not good enough – we need a legal guarantee that these funds will be used to tackle climate change. If they want money for the next Children’s Hospital, they shouldn’t be taking it from the Midlands to fund it.

“Fianna Fáil agreed to increases in the carbon tax on the basis that increases in this tax would be used to reduce our carbon footprint, protect the least well-off and to support the Midlands and other areas in the transition away from fossil fuels, in particular for peat workers employed by Bord na Móna. The ESB peat plants are set to close by year end and the newly Just Transition Commissioner has not even been allocated proper resources.

“This is yet another example of the Midlands being an afterthought. It’s not good enough and must be addressed as soon as possible. The Minister for Communications and the Minister for Finance must come together and explain why they are unwilling to provide a legal guarantee that these funds will be invested in supporting Bord na Móna workers into the future,” concluded Deputy Cowen.