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Cap & Share in Ireland

Cap & Share is being actively considered by the Irish government, initially for carbon emissions from the transport sector.

Comhar (the Irish Sustainability Commission) commissioned two reports from consultants (AEA and CE) looking into Cap & Share’s practicalities and economic effects. Both came out very favourable to Cap & Share.

Both reports can be downloaded from the Resources section of this website.

Comhar has recently published a report summarising the results of both studies. This can also be downloaded from the Resources section of this website.


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News item: September 2008 - An Taisce endorses C&S

An Taisce is the Irish equivalent of the National Trust. The following report is from the Irish Environment Network website.

At a meeting in Cork on Saturday 13th September, An Taisce’s governing body endorsed proposals to promote ‘Cap and Share’ as a way to help Ireland reach its carbon emission targets that currently seem impossible but are vital if we are to keep climate change to manageable levels.

The National Council, representing local associations and members, heard an outline of the measures originally proposed by Feasta that, if adopted, would see the government set a cap on the total amount of emission-producing-fuel allowed in Ireland - a cap that will be reduced by 3% each year until we meet the 20% cut agreed by Europe. Each year the rights to this reducing amount of fuel would be auctioned. This will inevitably lead to the cost of fuel rising as the various fuel importers would have to buy certificates to cover the emissions from the fuels they sell but, unlike a carbon tax, the income raised from the auction of these certificates is shared equally and directly to all adults, helping them to meet the rising prices for petrol and heating oil. The proposal would be cost neutral to the average consumer.

The meeting was told that the prospect of a carbon tax or any other system such as Cap and Share that increases the price of fuel will worry both individuals and industry but there are the penalties to be paid for not staying within our emission limits. Cap and Share guarantees that we will meet our international obligations, whereas tax based proposals leave this to chance. Cap and share also gives a financial return to those individuals that cut their carbon usage. 270 million euros have already been put aside to offset Ireland’s potential failure to meet its targets but Cap and Share can bring that money back into the economy, for example to insulate the homes of those in receipt of the fuel allowance. This could be worth more than a 5% pay increase.

Charles Stanley Smith, Chairman of An Taisce said "The Cap and Share system seeks to share the pain of increasing energy costs fairly and leave individuals with choices on how to adapt to the inevitable new circumstances. If we, as individuals, limit our use of energy, as many people on low incomes already do, we will have something to spare for other things. The wealthier will also have to make choices, if they use more than their share they will be penalised and will have to pay more for their extravagances. As we know, from successfully reducing the chemicals which once threatened the ozone layer, the only realistic way to tackle pollution is a limit that caps how much is permitted."

Following the debate An Taisce passed a motion to "endorse ‘Cap and Share’ as part of a programme to limit carbon emissions in line with EU-wide agreements"

The An Taisce vote was part of ongoing work by the Irish Environment Network of 27 environmental NGO’s to secure consensus on the Cap and Share proposal. The idea has already been considered in reports from British consultancies commissioned by Comhar, Ireland’s Sustainable Development Commission. These reports (by AEA Energy and Environment and Cambridge Econometrics) rate Cap and Share ahead of a carbon tax in terms of effectiveness, public involvement, popular acceptability and protecting the poor. (Cap and Share does not preclude the earlier introduction of carbon tax). The system is currently being considered by the UK Department for Environment.