Last night the Dáil debated the National Oil Reserves Agency (Amendment) and Provision of Central Treasury Bill 2020.
The aim of the Bill is to make it legal for the government to direct the funding generated by the levy you pay on petrol/oil products into its Climate Action Fund.
Although the levy has been set at a ‘mere’ €0.02 per litre since 2009, it has actually brought in revenue in excess of €1.2 billon since then.
Incidentally, it was Eamon Ryan, as Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, who increased the levy back in 2009 from €0.01 to €0.02 in order to address the massive amount of debt that the National Oil Reserves Agency had built up.
Strictly speaking it is the oil companies who are liable for payment of this levy when oil is placed on the market. However, we all know that in reality the levy is passed on to consumers.
This is all by way of context, because as I mentioned above a good proportion of the levy is now going to be directed toward the Climate Action Fund.
This Fund has already been given an initial allocation of €100 million. It will also receive, at a minimum, another €50 million every year from here on in.
Altogether this means the Climate Action Fund will have an allocation of at least €500 million over the period to 2027.
So, it is clear then that climate action and environmental projects are going to be lavishly well resourced, to say the least.
For the Social Democrats however, this is just not good enough.
It is all well and good to reserve half a billion for climate projects they say, but what about the poor unfortunate environmental NGOs who have to operate on a pittance of just €1 million in core funding they receive from the taxpayer.
This was the view put forward by Social Democrat TD Jennifer Whitmore last night during the course of the debate.
Here is what Deputy Whitmore said..and please..no laughing at the back:
“For environmental NGOs funding is a constant struggle. The environmental NGO community has done incredible work with the little they have in fostering community engagement to protect biodiversity at a grassroots level. I am aware that members of the Irish Environmental Network receive approximately €1 million each year in core funding. The fact is that they need closer to €10 million to make the impact they believe is required to adequately protect our natural heritage. When we compare the €1 million for environmental NGOs, or the €16 million that the National Parks and Wildlife Service gets, with the €16 million that Bord na gCon receives annually, it really paints a bleak picture.”
You can almost hear the tiny violin playing its green lament can’t you?
Perhaps someone should have told Deputy Whitmore that The Heritage Council, which is also funded by taxpayers already received increased funding of €6.588 million for 2019, compared to the €6.377 million it got in 2018.
In fact, from 2015 to 2019 the Heritage Council received just under €30 million (€29.2m).
Should we protect the environment and nurture responsible levels of biodiversity? Absolutely.
Should we continue to fund an already bloated NGO sector with yet more millions? Absolutely not.
Someone needs to tell the Social Democrats that.