Irish government approves country’s first ‘Clean Air Strategy’

(EurActiv, 27 Apr 2023) Ireland’s first ‘Clean Air Strategy’, aimed at reducing pollution-related deaths and improving air quality to meet targets set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), was approved by the government on Wednesday.

Poor air quality, caused by burning fossil fuels for transport, heating and power, negatively impacts people’s health and the environment.

“There are no safe levels of air pollution. Clean air is central to our wellbeing, particularly the wellbeing of the most vulnerable – children, older people or people who may be medically compromised,” said Climate and Environment Minister Eamon Ryan as he launched the strategy.

While Ireland is far from the worst offender in Europe, air pollution in the country is estimated to cause 1,300-1,400 premature deaths each year – 10 times more than the number of people who die on the roads, according to the government.

This was highlighted in a report published last year by Ireland’s Environment Protection Agency(EPA), which found that the country’s air quality is “generally good” and “compares favourably” with other European countries.

However, it flagged “concerning localised issues which lead to poor air quality”. It warned that while Ireland met its EU legal requirements in 2021, it did not meet new health-based WHO guidelines due to the burning of solid fuel in towns and villages and traffic in cities.

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EurActiv, 27 Apr 2023: Irish government approves country’s first ‘Clean Air Strategy’