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Air Quality Submission - Dubln FoE Dublin Friends of the Earth Air Quality Submission

Issued on: 01 May 2017

Air Quality Submission - Dubln FoE

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Summary

“When breathing is bad for our health...

...it's  time to end air pollution”

 

Dublin Friends of the Earth
News Release
Monday 1 May 2017

As alarming evidence grows of the health damage caused by air pollution, Dublin Friends of the Earth is calling on the Department of Environment and Climate Action to agree strong and decisive action in its first-ever proposed National Clean Air Strategy. The Government has a duty of care to protect all of us, and especially the most vulnerable, including the very young and the elderly.

Dr. Matt Robinson, a member of Dublin Friends of the Earth, commented:

“Most air pollution in Ireland today is invisible but it affects everyone – motorists and taxi drivers as well as pedestrians and cyclists, children and parents at school gates as well as people with asthma and other chronic illnesses. Our health, our health budgets and our climate will all benefit from strong and coordinated measures to end this pollution.”

Debora O'Connor, a member of Dublin Friends of the Earth, added:

“The evidence is now indisputable that poor air quality is a public health issue that requires genuine leadership from our politicians and energy, health, and transport agencies. Given the right policies, the public will make the right choices to protect ourselves and our environment.”

When Minister Denis Naughten returns to his desk on Tuesday, the 12 page submission from Dublin Friends of the Earth to his Department's Cleaning Our Air public consultation, which closed on Friday, will await him. It explains the serious problems of air pollution in Ireland and the major solutions to it – and highlights how reducing air pollution by phasing out the burning of coal, oil and peat will also stop our rising climate emissions, now the third highest per person in the EU.

The problems of air pollution in Ireland include:

  • 1,500 premature deaths a year, according to the WHO. [1]
  • Serious risks of heart diseases, stroke, respiratory diseases and lung cancer.
  • Grossly inadequate information on outdoor air quality, for example ag school gates, train stations and heavy traffic junctions. Ireland has only 31 air monitoring stations compared to Scotland's 88, and no real time information displays for the public.
  • Growing evidence of diesel pollution by particulates that have no safe level.
  • Most residential air pollution 'hot spots' are in areas of poverty and deprivation.

The solutions to air pollution in Ireland include:

  • Replacing toxic fossil fuels with clean energy in transport, residential heating and power generation will end most air pollution and reduce climate change disasters.
  • Providing adequate air quality information by a large increase in air monitoring stations – more than planned by the Dept – and easy public access to real-time information online, on mobile apps and on the electronic displays that provide parking information to motorists.
  • A really ambitious programme of energy retrofits to our homes and other buildings – which could save us €2.4 billion in energy costs in the future, according to SEAI. [2]
  • Community energy schemes to enable solar, wind and other clean technologies for homes, schools, sports clubs and business – and to allow communities to make money on them.
  • Big transport investment in cycling and clean public transport instead of more roads.

Public awareness of the dangers of air pollution is growing as cities across Europe restrict diesel cars and levy congestion charges. In Ireland, we know very well that Government intervention to protect us from pollution works – the smoky coal ban will go nationwide next year, and we led the world on the plastic bag levy and on indoor smoking bans. Dublin Friends of the Earth is urging Minister Naughten and his Department to follow the public consultation with action on Cleaning Our Air– not with a few token measures but with dozens of changes that can make our homes, our streets and the air we breathe in every corner of the country safer for all of us. 

References:

[1] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2014/air-pollution/en/

[2] http://www.seai.ie/Publications/Statistics_Publications/Energy_Modelling_Group_Publications/Ireland%e2%80%99s-Energy-Targets-Progress-Ambition-and-Impacts.pdf

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