An Taisce calls on the Government to commit to a more ambitious Clean Air strategy and urges members of the public to submit their views through the open consultation process.

The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications are seeking views on its Draft Clean Air Strategy. The Clean Air Strategy will guide the Government’s actions to reduce air pollution and promote cleaner air. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air pollution in Ireland causes a loss in life expectancy of 394 years per 100,000 inhabitants. (1) In 2019, the EPA also identified an exceedance of the EU legal limit values of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) emissions at an air quality monitoring station in St John’s Road West, Dublin. (2) The EU limits are four times higher than the World Health Organisation guidelines. Just this year, the Clean Air Together citizen science project also found high levels of air pollution beside busy roads in Dublin. (3)

Kevin Keane, Climate Advocacy Officer with An Taisce said:

“Clean air is essential for our health. Our lungs and hearts depend on it. Urgent and transformative action is necessary to bring our air quality in line with World Health Organisation guideline limits. Failure to do so will have catastrophic impacts on biodiversity, climate action, and human health. The risk posed to human health should not be underestimated.

The Department’s current Draft Clean Air Strategy cannot deliver meaningful improvements to Ireland’s air quality. We need legislation, which commits Ireland to achieving WHO Clean Air Limits by 2025. We also need radical interventions on Transport, Agriculture and Home Heating, underpinned at all times by the principles of Just Transition. We urge members of the public to ask for better and share their views”.

Kevin Keane, Climate Advocacy Officer, continued:

For Transport, we need subsidised public transport, Low Emission Zones in our cities, an active travel revolution in urban planning, and investment in alternatives to air travel. The Draft Strategy contains no commitment to the implementation of Low Emission Zones. There is no reference whatsoever to aviation emissions, and there is no credible pathway outlined to achieving a modal shift away from the private car and towards subsidised public transport, walking and cycling.

We need a triage model urgently in our home heating transition. The National Retrofitting Scheme needs to ensure that those most impacted are put at the top of the list for retrofitting, and not left to wait out in the cold to fend for themselves. Any backlogs must be addressed. We’re talking about households most impacted by energy poverty, those most dependent on smoky fuels and those whose health is most at risk. The elimination of solid fuel burning in Ireland is clearly a crucial target, but it must be achieved by providing realistic and timely alternatives”. 

(1) Cleaning Our Air Public Consultation to inform the development of a National Clean Air Strategy (2017) 

(2) Air Quality in Ireland 2019 (2020) 

(3) Clean Air Together (2022)