Clean Air is not a Choice
Action on air pollution needed for public health and quality of life in Ireland.
Ireland faces growing breaches of World Health Organisation(WHO) air pollution standards, in particular through the increase in number of diesel cars which release fine particulate matter.
This month, An Taisce made a submission on the public consultation to inform the development of a new Government National Clean Air Strategy. This is beginning of a process that will require urgent action in enhanced public health legislation, reform of the tax system to support clean technology, and investment in efficient heating, public transport and cycling infrastructure.
Ian Lumley, An Taisce’s Advocacy Officer, stated “We can choose the food we eat and the water we drink but we can’t choose the air we breathe. We at An Taisce recognize the importance of clean air to the health of the Nation. Ireland prides itself as a healthy and green Island with prevailing winds blowing in off the Atlantic. Our natural advantages however are not enough to ensure safe levels of pollutants including PM2.5, PM10, NOₓ, SOₓ, O₃, and NH₄”.
An Taisce’s submission recommended the following:
The reconstitution of the remit and scope of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure effective national monitoring, regulation and enforcement on all air pollution impacts.
- Legislative and fiscal reform to mandate and inform the actions of all Government Departments, State Agencies, Local Authorities and other decision makers in meeting World Health Organisation (WHO) air quality standards as a legal responsibility.
- The enhancement of citizen rights to secure legal redress on Clean Air in accordance with the Aarhus Convention.
- The progressive reduction and elimination of locations with days exceeding WHO emission thresholds and limits, focusing on traffic pollution and domestic fuel burning.
- Resourcing the large-scale retrofitting of the national housing stock giving priority to areas with high solid fuel use.
- Ensuring that the application of the overdue national “smoky” coal ban in 2018 should not be allowed to generate increased emissions from peat and biomass.
- Action on diesel emissions, through the range of fiscal and other measures recommended in the An Taisce responses in the transport section of this submission, and which are supported by public health researchers and other advocacy bodies with a clear target for phasing in low emission vehicles for all transport sectors.
- Large scale acceleration of public transport and cycling infrastructure investment.
- The re energising of the measures set out but not implemented in the 2009 Department of Transport “Smarter Travel” policy particularity action to achieve modal shift from cars, including taxis , to walking, cycling and low emission public transport, with clear targets to be met.
- Requiring the agricultural sector to implement effective monitoring and abatement of ammonia emissions, and to control the impact of land burning.
- Public information programmes be primarily directed at supporting enhanced public health protection through legislation, regulation and enforcement, and redirection of taxation policy and public investment to ensure that Ireland meets WHO clean air standards.
- The withdrawal of the proposed Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) as not fit for purpose on multiple sustainably grounds including air pollution impact.
Ian Lumley, Advocacy Officer, An Taisce. Tel: +353 1 454 1786
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce. Tel: +353 87 241 1995
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
About An Taisce
An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.