Tuesday, 26 June 2007
Question 83: To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the terms of reference of the carbon budget he plans to introduce; if this will be produced as part of the Estimates process; and the way choices on the allocation of this budget will be presented to the Dáil. [17324/07]
Question 96: To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the way the proposed carbon budget, to be produced in conjunction with the annual fiscal budget will work in regard to the commitment in the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17154/07]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 83 and 96 together.
The programme for Government indicates the Government will mandate the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance to present an outline carbon report in conjunction with the annual financial budget. As the programme for Government suggests, the content of a carbon budget will be a matter for the Government to decide.
As the Deputy is aware my colleague, Deputy John Gormley, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, has primary responsibility for the issue of climate change and so will have a major input into the establishment and configuration of the carbon budget. My Department will consult the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government on all aspects of this.
The data collated for the carbon budget will be obtained from several agencies. Accordingly, it may take some time to put all this data together. The Government will consider the parameters of a carbon budget and will report in due course.
With regard to the carbon budget, will the Oireachtas be presented with choices in the same way as it is for the Estimates in the ordinary budget process whereby we can make decisions on various policy approaches? Will it be a dynamic process of this nature or will it record in a dead way what happened in the previous year?
As the programme for Government points out, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, who has primary responsibility for the issue of climate change, will produce an annual report outlining our use of energy in the preceding year, the progress made in meeting reduction targets and Government plans to meet the targets of the following year. An effort is being made——
The Minister for Finance will introduce this under the programme for Government. He cannot say it is the responsibility of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. It is his carbon budget.
I will outline the general position but under the programme for Government the detailed issues of how we will proceed to meet the target for the following year will be a matter for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.
In many European parliaments Ministers keep an account of their carbon usage and it is reported. Governments purchase carbon offsets every time they take a long-distance hike and they invest in a tree somewhere. I invite the Minister to have an entire rain forest named after him——
Some Ministers in this Government have bigger carbon footprints than others. We know the Minister for Finance is unlikely to be one of them. It would be interesting to know what it is. Do the Minister's Green Party colleagues have him making a note of his carbon footprint on a weekly basis?