The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan has today (Tuesday, March 8) launched a public consultation on the draft Clean Air Strategy for Ireland.

Minister Ryan said the consultation is an opportunity for everyone to consider the issue and make suggestions on how to best reduce air pollution and promote clean air.

The public consultation is now open for submissions until the closing date on Tuesday, May 3.

Launching the public consultation on the draft strategy, Minister Ryan stated:

“Clean air is central to supporting life in all its forms and the environment on which we all depend. It is also synonymous with well-being.”

He added that clean air doesn’t just benefit communities, but also habitats and wildlife, while contributing to the “best possible environment for us, as a society, to live, work, grow up and grow old in”.

In Ireland, the quality of air is generally good, according to Minister Ryan, however it is still estimated that 1,410 people die prematurely each year nationwide due to air pollution.

Minister Ryan said he is committed to addressing this “critical public health and environmental challenge”.

Clean Air Strategy

The Clean Air Strategy provides a high-level policy framework which identifies measures to reduce air pollution and promote cleaner air while also delivering on wider national objectives.

Benefits of the draft strategy, according to his department, are warmer homes; improved agriculture practices; more sustainable transport options; better health; and lower carbon emissions.

The consultation will take the ambition of the Climate Action Plan 2021 into account as, Minister Ryan explained, many air pollution sources, including those from burning solid fuels, are also sources of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Minister Ryan added:

“Air quality is closely associated with our climate and ecosystems. There is a clear correlation between the actions needed to lower air pollution and those needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The strategy includes several measures that address air and climate policy including those aimed at improving the energy efficiency of homes and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

Five priorities outlined in the strategy are:

  • Continuous improvements in air quality across the country;
  • Integration of clean air considerations into the development of policy across government;
  • Increase in evidence base to help evolve our understanding of the sources of pollution – to address them more effectively;
  • Enhance regulation and improve the effectiveness of our enforcement systems;
  • Promote and increase awareness of the importance of clean air.

Changes promoted in the strategy, the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications stated, will have benefits for the economy and society which will enable the transition towards a long-term sustainable economy.