Ireland should take the lead on EU air quality, says Environmental Pillar

10 April 2013: The Environmental Pillar, a coalition of 26 Irish environmental organisations, is calling on Minister Hogan to show leadership in improving air quality across the EU during the Irish presidency period.
This call comes in the lead-up to an Informal Council of EU Environment Ministers in Dublin on Monday 22 April, when Minister Hogan and his European counterparts will discuss EU policy on air quality.
‘There’s no doubt whatsoever that poor air quality damages our health and our economy. We’ve waited too long for strong action on air standards,’ said Michael Ewing, spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar.
Despite improvements due to the introduction of coal-free cities, Ireland remains in ongoing breach of EU law because of traffic-induced nitrogen oxides, which are linked to asthma, other respiratory illnesses and neurodevelopmental conditions.
The recent history of the EU’s air quality policy has been marked by delays and missed opportunities.
Yet there is hope that in 2013, the ‘Year of Air’, and with dynamic Irish presidency of the EU in progress, the EU will finally ‘get it right’.
‘It’s essential that we clean up our air quality – we know for a fact that it’s affecting the health of our children’ said Mr Ewing.
The Environmental Pillar has written to Minister Hogan urging him to support three priority actions which, combined, could put the EU on the right track for better air quality. These are:
1. The adoption of ambitious emission reduction commitments in the revised Nation Emissions Ceilings Directive, both for existing and ‘new’ pollutants;
2. The adoption of sector legislation to cut emissions from all major sources; and
3. The enforcement and strengthening of ambient air quality limit values.