Dublin MEP Ciarán Cuffe has welcomed the adoption of Ireland’s first Clean Air Strategy, which will bring national standards for air quality in line with international best practice.
MEP Cuffe proposed this move in his submission to the related public consultation in May 2022. The new strategy commits Ireland to achieving the new World Health Organisation (WHO) standards for air quality by 2040, with interim targets set for 2026 and 2030. Air pollution is estimated to cause up to 1,400 premature deaths in Ireland each year. Urban areas like Dublin are often disproportionately affected by air pollution due to more concentrated residential living and higher levels of traffic.
MEP Cuffe expressed disappointment however, that the strategy failed to mention active travel measures that better facilitate walking and cycling, nor did it emphasise the importance of modal shift for improving air quality.
MEP Cuffe said: “Ten times the number of people who die on our roads die from air pollution-related causes every year. Poor air quality in Dublin is often concentrated in deprived areas, where there are high levels of traffic and wide use of open fires. Children, older people, and other vulnerable groups suffer most, and long-term exposure is a health risk. It remains unacceptable that some areas in Dublin’s North Inner City and Cabra still have no air monitoring. Communities most affected by poor air quality have to be prioritised in the expansion of the national air monitoring network.
Raising national ambitions in line with international standards is a good first step. In parallel, the implementation of climate-related measures like more frequent and reliable public transport services, electrification, supporting retrofits, and the move to cleaner heating systems under the leadership of the Green Party in government will have a knock-on effect on air quality. Although active travel measures were not highlighted in this strategy, the significant investment in improving infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists in Dublin will also ensure better air quality and health outcomes for Dublin residents.”
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