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Government departments now 'carbon taxed' on air travel

The tax will be paid into the government’s Climate Action Fund every year.

Image: Shutterstock

GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS AND offices have been ordered to calculate and record the value of their carbon emissions every time their officials use air transport.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe announced the instruction as part of a new programme by the Government to offset its greenhouse gas emissions.

Since 1 January, officials have been required to value the carbon emissions their air travel gives rise to at €26 per tonne – the current rate of carbon tax.

The government intends to take the calculated value of each Department’s carbon emissions out of their travel budget, and to allocate it to its Climate Action Fund, where it the minister said it will be used to boost domestic activity to reduce emissions.

Announcing the measure, Donohoe said it was vital that the public sector led by example in meeting the challenge posed by the climate crisis.

“Offsetting emissions is no substitute for changing our behaviour and actually reducing the emissions we produce,” he said.

“However, by increasing the cost of Government air travel and taking this cost from existing travel budgets, it will incentivise Departments to reduce their air travel, while all of the funds raised will go towards new investments in Ireland that will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

For commercial flights, Departments will use the travel calculator provided by the International Civil Aviation Organisation to estimate their emissions.

The measures also cover travel on the Government Lear jet, whose emissions have been calculated by the Department of Defence at two tonnes per hour of flight time or 2.66 tonnes per 1,000km travelled per flight.

The payments to the Climate Action Fund will commence in February 2021, and will be accompanied by a note from ecah Department which must state the total distance travelled by air.

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