Tánaiste Leo Varadkar says ‘Government will not take peoples’ homes and cars’ if emission targets are missed



Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said individuals will not be punished if climate emission targets are not reached and described the notion of banning second family cars as “fairly harebrained”.

esterday an unnamed Government source leaked details of the proposal to limit families to one car, if agriculture emission targets are not met.

Mr Varadkar said the farming sector will be expected to reduce emissions by between 22pc and 30pc, which he argued is considerably less than other industries.

“The least contribution we’re asking for from any sector is the agri-food sector, why is that? Because it is special, because we do recognise that is has to be treated differently, that it involves food production which is essential…and because farming and agriculture is a way of life,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said the Government also accepts that “farmers and the industry will need help” to achieve the targets.

Speaking on The Last Word with Matt Cooper he said people “can get hung up on numbers and percentages” and more discussion is needed about “how” the targets can be achieved. He said there is “a lot of scaremongering” around climate targets, and he does not agree with limiting the number of cars in each household.

“I think it’s fairly harebrained and I’m a member of the Government and I’m not aware of any proposal to tell families that they can’t have a second car. I don’t know where it comes from,” he said.

“You don’t either because it was somebody making an anonymous comment but unfortunately these things get legs sometimes. I think there’s a lot of scaremongering at the moment around climate action. These targets are very ambitious, and we do have to do everything we can to achieve them… but we’re not going to penalise and punish people if they can’t be achieved.

“If it’s the case that we can’t reach our transport emissions targets, are we really going to say to people that we have to confiscate your car? Let’s just say we can’t reach our building emissions targets, are we going to say we have to close down your house and move in with somebody next door? Of course we’re not, and the same thing applies with agriculture.”

Mr Varadkar said it is possible to turn climate action into “economic opportunities” but argued that a “huge amount” of investment is needed in the national grid, the ESB and in private companies.

He said the data centres “of the future” will have to be powered by renewable energy. He added that tech companies are keen to keep their data centres in the countries they operate in and admitted that the Government will have to “prioritise” the tech companies which have a “genuine economic benefit for Ireland”.

Regarding the rising cost of living, Mr Varadkar said there will be “a number of one-off” measures in the upcoming budget to help people who are struggling, including a minimum wage increase and a package to reduce income tax.

He defended the Government’s policy of not taxing aviation fuel, however, saying as an island nation “we depend” on aviation.

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar is due to become Taoiseach at the end of this year and he said the agreement was reached between the three Government parties and not the leaders of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party.

Mr Varadkar said he would not comment on the speculation that current Taoiseach Micheál Martin could lose the Fianna Fáil leadership before the handover.

“It’s not an agreement between the leaders. So, if I were to cease to be the leader of Fine Gael for some reason, the agreement would still stand,” he said.

“The leadership of any party is a matter for that party…I’ve worked very closely with Micheál Martin the last couple of years. We’ve got to know each other very well. I think he’s doing an excellent job as Taoiseach. I respect him. I trust him. I look forward to working with him for the next few years.

“The leadership of Fianna Fáil is a matter for them, so of course I would seek to work with whoever the leader of Fianna Fáil is,” he added.



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