Dáil debates

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

4:00 pm

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael)
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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]

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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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]

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Minister, Department of Finance; Tánaiste; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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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.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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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?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Minister, Department of Finance; Tánaiste; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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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——

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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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.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Minister, Department of Finance; Tánaiste; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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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.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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It is suggested in the Programme for Government that the Minister for Finance will do it and not the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Minister, Department of Finance; Tánaiste; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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If Deputy Burton reads the programme for Government——

Photo of Seán ArdaghSeán Ardagh (Dublin South Central, Fianna Fail)
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Let us not get into semantics.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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It is not semantics.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Minister, Department of Finance; Tánaiste; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The programme for Government points out that I will incorporate the carbon budget as part of my budget and the following day the detail of how we will proceed——

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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It does not sound like the Minister has internalised this idea.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Minister, Department of Finance; Tánaiste; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I have internalised the idea.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
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The Minister sounds very enthusiastic.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Minister, Department of Finance; Tánaiste; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I want to ensure we have a workable arrangement whereby we have the dynamic discussion Deputy Bruton mentioned.

Photo of Bernard AllenBernard Allen (Cork North Central, Fine Gael)
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It is another fairy tale.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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Will each Minister produce an account of his or her carbon footprint on an annual basis with regard to travel and other energy-using devices to which Ministers resort?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Minister, Department of Finance; Tánaiste; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It depends on the size of their shoes.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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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——

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Minister, Department of Finance; Tánaiste; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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To cut it down to answer all of the Deputy's questions.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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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?

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Along with bicycle clips.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Minister, Department of Finance; Tánaiste; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It is important that the Opposition does not become so frivolous so soon.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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The Minister is no fun. Now that he is the dauphin he has changed.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Minister, Department of Finance; Tánaiste; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It is "no fun" day for Deputy Burton and she will have five years of it.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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It could be done on the back of an envelope.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Minister, Department of Finance; Tánaiste; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government will bring forward the full report in respect of all Departments and agencies.