Ireland will follow Canada in offering rebates to offset increases to its domestic carbon tax as it tries to blunt opposition to the levy economists say is key to fighting climate change.
Richard Bruton, Minister of Communication, Climate Action and Environment, said on Friday that rebates similar to those planned by Ottawa will head off criticism as Ireland eyes increases to its current tax of €20 per tonne of carbon.
“It’s true in Canada just as it is in Ireland, I’m sure, that we have to try and break the connection between economic and social progress and carbon damage to our planet," he said by phone after meeting with Canadian Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna. “It’s much easier to communicate if you can explain it in those terms.”
The federal Liberals have pledged to send out rebate cheques to households in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick in a bid to quell opposition to the tax in an election year.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly touted the federal levy, starting at $20 per tonne and rising to $50 in 2022, as the centrepiece of efforts to fight climate change.
But the policy has faced stiff opposition from conservative politicians and a court challenge launched by Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe. Alberta’s provincial carbon tax has also emerged as a major wedge issue ahead of a spring election in the oil-rich province.
In Ireland, a parliamentary committee is scheduled to report in coming weeks following a recommendation from a citizens assembly last year that advised steadily increasing the country’s carbon tax from current levels.
That has been largely overshadowed by a key vote next week that will determine the fate of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s efforts to salvage a Brexit deal with the European Union.
British lawmakers are set to vote Tuesday on Ms. May’s revised withdrawal agreement from the EU, which hinges in large part on a provision that guarantees there will be no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Failure to secure a pact would deal a severe blow to the Irish economy and undermine the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that ended decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland and put an end to strict border controls, Mr. Bruton said.