I will try to bring this discussion to a conclusion because there still seems to be some confusion about the intention of the amendments we have brought forward. They are about accepting the necessity for a price trajectory in carbon pricing, from €20 per tonne to €80 per tonne by 2030. That is where we need clarity. The amendment reads: "And this should only be implemented when an evidenced-based plan is in place". To me, the words "in place" mean that it is available. The amendment goes on to state: "To increase supports and incentives for climate action measures, including the protection of those vulnerable to fuel poverty". If there is any doubt about the meaning of the term "in place" or further qualification is needed, it is in the second paragraph which reads: "The Government should, prior to the introduction of any increase in carbon taxation, examine the impacts [etc.]... introduce specific policy measures to assist those who may not be in a position to immediately transition from fossil fuels, including the potential use of social protection mechanisms, such as tax credits and welfare payments".
It is worth remembering that this is a committee of the Houses. It is not the Cabinet room. Having heard the evidence, we are collectively making suggestions and recommendations etc. to this and future Governments. It is not for us to take a decision and set the budget which we are not deciding today. We are not deciding specific policies. We will have other opportunities to do so as we have all been fortunate to be elected as Members of the Houses. This is an effort, on a cross-party basis, to make recommendations to the Government. We were very strongly of the view that our suggestions needed to be in sequence. The strong recommendation from the party I represent is adamant that we not progress with an increase in carbon charges until such time as recommendations had been made and a plan and incentives had been put in place. That is very clear in the language used. I do not know how we could be more helpful because I accept that Deputies Stanley and Munster and Senator Devine have engaged fully and proactively in the campaign. We largely agree on all aspects of it, but I am not surprised that they have an issue because they have flagged it on a few occasions with the idea of increases in carbon pricing. That is a fact and there is no issue for me.
Let us not try to indicate that any of us has greater care than others for those on lower incomes. We are all mindful of them and trying to ensure that, as we transition from fossil fuels, we will protect the people who are most vulnerable to fuel poverty. That is inherent in the recommendation. Can we direct the Government to do it from here? No, we cannot because we are not sitting at the Cabinet table, but, as a collective, we have an opportunity to put it forward. I am clear that if the Government was to follow the advice of the committee and its expressed opinion and if it was true to the report, it would have to put appropriate measures in place to protect those who, as Senator Devine rightly identified, are not in a position to change a car that is ten years old or older, to undertake a deep retrofit of their home or to pay the additional €0.63 on a bag of coal that would have an impact on them on a yearly basis. It is hardwired in the report that the moneys that would be collected would be ring-fenced by a legislative provision in order that they could be used to assist people in making the behavioural change required. The wording is very clear.
We are all concerned that this or a future Government might seek to cherry-pick elements of the report and state, for example, that as it recommended an increase in tax, we should grab it, include it in the bottom line and use it to fill a hole in the Exchequer figure. The report states the Government should not do that. It states it has to identify the appropriate supports and mechanisms to assist those who will be impacted on negatively by an increase in carbon taxes, that plans and schemes need to be put in place and available before charging starts or there are increases in the charges already made. That is why the party I represent, Fianna Fáil, is happy to proceed with it.
We did not have a change of heart. We were always very clear, both within these walls and publicly, that we supported carbon pricing as part of the climate change agenda. It was not the be-all and end-all but a component in shifting behaviour. The carbon pricing set out would not be limited to individuals. It would impact on businesses also. I have to reiterate the point to my good friend Deputy Bríd Smith that it is about assisting and encouraging bigger companies, in particular, because they are the ones that use the largest amounts of fossil fuels and contribute most to greenhouse gas emissions. It is in their financial interests to migrate from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources. This would be a progressive way of assisting them in doing so.
There is a wider debate, in which the Deputy and I differ significantly, about the role of big business in an economy, etc. but the ideological debates are for elsewhere. This is about responding to the chaos and crisis we face in addressing climate change within the next 12 to 13 years. This would be a contribution. We must be careful and mindful in introducing measures that we do not leave people behind or make their lives even more difficult and intolerable.
I want to return to the numbers which were raised earlier. Based on my calculations, a bag of coal which in today's money costs €17 would see an increase of 63 cent year on year. VAT, if added, would another 7 cent, giving a total increase of 70 cent a year. The current price of a bale of briquettes is €4.50, to which 13 cent would be added. VAT would add about another 1 cent. Diesel was the source of Deputy Munster's greatest concern. Coming from a rural constituency and representing people in rural Ireland, both in the agriculture sector and those who have to commute on a daily basis, I share that concern. As I have rightly identified, the fluctuation in the price of diesel has been in the region of 30 to 35 cent in the past six months. The increase in carbon pricing, year on year, would be about 1.5 cent. That is what would be washed into it, so to speak.