CARBON taxes should not be increased while the country is “in the dark” about how many people are in fuel poverty, People Before Profit have said.

The party is opposed to increasing the tax on fossil fuels, which stands at €20-per-tonne. It wants oil and gas companies to be hit with tax increases instead of households.

A cross-party committee recommended a €10 increase in the tax as part of efforts to reduce carbon emissions contributing to climate change.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have both indicated that there will be a rise in carbon taxes in the upcoming Budget, though the exact amount has not yet been decided upon.

Measures to protect people in fuel poverty and a possible dividend paid to households are under consideration as ways to mitigate the impact of the tax increase. A household is said to be in fuel poverty when its members cannot afford to keep adequately warm at a reasonable cost, given their income.

PBP TD Bríd Smith said there is an escalating climate change crisis and that her party recognises that something dramatic needs to be done to transition away from fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions.

However, she argued that increasing the carbon tax won’t work and that it targets the wrong people.

She said people on lower incomes are “least equipped to make the necessary changes in their personal lives, in their homes, in their energy use, in their mode of transport, in home insulation”.

She said some people, including pensioners, have incomes slightly above thresholds to get grants for insulating their homes and can’t afford to do so as a result.

Ms Smith said it’s “highly reckless” that an increase in the tax is being proposed on “ordinary people who have no alternative to heat their homes.”

She also said that the cross-party committee on climate action had recommended that a report be carried out to determine the extent of fuel poverty by the end of June but that this has not taken place.

Ms Smith claimed it’s now clear that the government has no intention of conducting the review and she added: “we are still in the dark as to who exactly in this country is affected by fuel poverty”.

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