Howlin calls for a new Department for Public Expenditure and Climate Action
Speaking today at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Conference on a Just Transition, the leader of the Labour Party, Brendan Howlin TD, called for the role of Minister for Public Expenditure to be held by someone different than the Minister for Finance, and to add Climate Action to the role’s portfolio to implement all-of-government Carbon Budgeting.
Deputy Howlin said:
“I was the inaugural Minister for Public Expenditure and I have already said it was a mistake by Fine Gael to have one person hold this post as well as Finance, rather than learning the lesson of the 2008 crash that a dedicated minister is needed for public spending. The lack of this dedicated minister is visible in the recent cost overruns in the National Children’s Hospital and rural broadband.
“A serious all-of-government commitment is needed for Ireland to achieve its climate target of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions from 60 million tonnes a year at present, down to 33 million tonnes by 2030.
“Labour championed the idea of setting Carbon Budgets – annual allocations of maximum emissions by sector of the economy – included in the all-party Oireachtas report on climate action. These would be overseen by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Climate Action. By holding the purse strings alongside the emissions targets, this would confirm the serious intent of government to achieve these targets.
“The Minister for Public Expenditure and Climate Action would allocate Carbon Budgets to all departments, with tighter annual targets every year. This in turn would set limits for each sector of the economy, and push all industries to do their fair share to reduce carbon emissions. An all-of-government approach to climate is vital, and bringing evidence-based carbon budgeting into the heart of the national budget is a necessary part of achieving a low carbon economy.”