The representative body for firms involved in the importation, distribution and marketing of oil products here has lodged a complaint with the EU alleging illegal state aid by the Government.
Fuels for Ireland claims oil-based energy consumers have had responsibility for the funding of the Government’s Climate Action Fund placed solely upon them.
It said its members have been put at a competitive disadvantage as a result in a move that is unlawful.
The organisation claims users of other energy sources, such as coal and peat, which also generate greenhouse gas emissions, have not been held to account in a similar way.
“We are determined to play our part in addressing our climate and environmental emergency and funding Ireland’s Climate Action plans,” said Fuels for Ireland chief executive Kevin McPartlan.
“We have made the commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050 but we cannot stand by and allow our consumers to be the only ones paying for Ireland’s Climate Action Fund,” he added.
Fuels for Ireland’s members includes some of the largest forecourt operators in the country, including Applegreen, Circle K, Maxol, Top and Emo.
Previously, 2 cent per litre of fuel sold by them went to fund the National Oil Reserves Agency, which ensures Ireland has a 90-day stock of oil ready at all times in the event of a global shortage.
However, recently a change was made by the Government that will see all income from the levy redirected to the Climate Action Fund.
The fund was established to provide assistance and financial support to projects which will help Ireland achieve its climate and energy targets through the provision of at least €500m in Government funding up to 2027.
But Fuels for Ireland claims the decision to redirect the proceeds of the levy has the effect of placing the entire burden for funding the fund’s work on oil consumers, particularly those in rural Ireland.
It is now alleging to the European Commission that this constitutes state aid because it puts its members at a competitive disadvantage.
The body wants the burden to be shared equally across all providers and consumers of fossil fuels, through the carbon tax.
“We have brought this matter to the attention of the Minister and the Department on several occasions,” said Mr McPartlan.
“The State is discriminating against people who use home heating oil to keep their homes warm, put petrol or diesel into the cars to get to work or bring their kids to school and we have been forced to bring this issue to the European Commission through this State aid complaint,” he added.
The European Commission will now have to assess the case to see if it justifies further scrutiny.