Some consumers are being lured by unscrupulous retailers who are engaged in selling solid fuels in bulk, from another jurisdiction without the applicable carbon tax and in flagrant disregard of the law. This presents acute concerns for the viability of the industry, where it has to compete with illegal alternatives that do not ascribe to the requisite safety and environmental standards.
Fuel merchants registration requirement
It should be a condition, prior to commencing business, that a solid fuel retailer is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This would eliminate bad actors from the industry, who operate to a lower set of standards when compared to the sector average.
Just Transition Funding
A Just Transition involves maximising the social and economic opportunities of climate action, while minimising challenges – including through effective social dialogue among all groups impacted, and respect for fundamental employment principles and rights. With solid fuel merchants facing an existential crisis as a consequence of policies and legislative imperatives binding the sector, it is crucial that any transition plans contain a ring-fenced allocation of monies for the sector.
Developing a low carbon alternative
The solid fuel industry has sought to develop new products through extensive investment in research and development. SFMI calls on the Government to include grants and funding initiatives for companies developing low-smoke fuel products, with an emphasis on encouraging further research and development of low-smoke and low-carbon solid fuels.
Changes to the administration of the fuel allowance scheme
While the current mode of payment to recipients of the Fuel Allowance is through the Department of Social Protection, SFMI propose that a voucher system should be introduced that would utilise the Intreo office network and empower them to support solid fuel retailers in their own communities.
Sunset clause on agitative legislation
In order to stimulate investment in low-carbon solid fuel alternatives and tackle the rising issue of fuel poverty, SFMI believe the introduction of a sunset clause – pertaining to any legislation that threatens the existence of the sector – is essential.
The sunset clause could be correlated to the number of retrofitted homes. Specifically, a sunset clause could be introduced (pertaining to any legislation that threatens the existence of the sector) until the state reaches its target of 500,000 home energy upgrades.
Maintenance of advertising and labeling standards
The prevalence of advertising and labeling of products as “low smoke” when they are in fact in clear breach of the 2% sulphur limit is a development that needs to be policed, with the applicable laws enforced. Government must devise and implement a regional enforcement structure to curtail the contagion of the practice.
Rebates for vehicles used in the course of trade
In order to reduce costs to the consumer and protect those must vulnerable to high energy prices, SFMI believes that the inclusion of its members’ transport vehicles in the Diesel rebate scheme would be of significant benefit.