National Clean Air Strategy
National Clean Air Strategy Consultation
With improvement in the scientific knowledge of the threats posed to people’s health and the environment by air pollutants, it is now clear that air pollution causes more damage than previously understood. We are therefore currently developing a national Clean Air Strategy. A public consultation will begin in 2016. Further details to be announced on this page and in the national press.
Establishing a National Strategy will provide a policy framework by which Ireland can develop the necesary policies and measures to comply with new and emerging EU legislation, as well helping to tackle climate change. The Strategy will also necessarily consider a wider range of national policies that are relevant to clean air policy such as transport, energy, home heating and agriculture. In any discussion relating to clean air policy, the issue of people’s health is paramount and this will be a strong theme of the Strategy.
Purpose of the consultation
It is timely now to conduct a wider review of clean air policies. Emission sources need to be tackled to reduce levels of air pollution. In addition, other polluting sectors that have not shown significant reductions in recent decades should also contribute to overall targets where cost effective opportunities exist.
Recent studies have identified air pollution as the top environmental cause of premature death in Europe. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the EU estimates that more than 400,000 premature deaths are attributable to poor air quality in Europe annually. The most common causes of premature death attributable to poor air quality are strokes and heart disease. The economic impact is also significant with increased cost of healthcare and lost working days. Air pollution also has significant impacts on ecosystems and buildings.
Developments in Ireland
With regard to air quality in Ireland, there has been significant improvement over the decades through a host of policy measures at EU and national levels. The introduction of the smoky coal ban in the early 1990’s is a good example of a national initiative that led to significant change and improvements in air quality in urban areas.
The phasing out of lead in petrol and ever improving vehicle emission standards are examples of EU policy changes that have been aimed at improving the air we breathe.
Air pollution challenges
Air pollution continues to present challenges including;
- transport emissions, and particularly road transport emissions of NOx, fine particulate matter and black carbon arising from increase in diesel cars and buses in our cities and towns; and
- emissions from industry, agriculture and shipping, and
- the persistent problem of ‘smoky’ emissions from the use of solid fuel in homes, which our national estimates indicate are a key source of PM2.5, responsible for around 60% of all national emissions.