Naughten to double number of State’s air-monitoring stations

Minister says move will allow for more evidence-based clean air policies to be developed

Minister for  Climate Change Denis Naughten announced a consultation on a new clean air policy. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Minister for Climate Change Denis Naughten announced a consultation on a new clean air policy. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

The number of air-monitoring stations around the country will be doubled to 70 to allow the State develop more evidence-based clean air policies, the Minister for Communications and Climate Change Denis Naughten has said.

Mr Naughten on Wednesday announced a consultation on a new clean air policy on the back of a document setting out the situation and challenges facing Ireland in terms of air quality.

While Ireland ranks well in comparison to many EU states, a number of major issues and challenges have been identified including levels of nitrogen oxide, emissions from diesel engines, smoke from coals, timber and peat, as well as industry and housing.

He was speaking at the launch in Ireland of Coalition 2030, an alliance of development agencies and other civil society groups, whose aim is to ensure that Ireland meets its commitments to the United Nation’s 17 sustainable development goals for 2030.

Air quality

Officials from the European Commission are also in Ireland this week to examine air-quality issues in the State.

“We cannot change things unless we can accurately read them in the first place,” said Mr Naughten.

“This is what the EPA will have. A lot of it will be live and fed on the web so that public can see what’s happening in their area in relation to air quality at any particular point of time.”

Mr Naughten said Ireland was well within its EU targets on air quality but said that on a global level with the World Health Organisation , there were “lots of problems”.

“The big one is nitrogen oxide. Black carbon or soot is another one, particularly in Dublin. We have problems across the board.

“We are better than any other place in Europe. But this is not comparing with other EU countries. This is about doing the right thing. It will have a direct impact on our health services. It will save lives. We can stop people ending up in hospital. We can also deal with asthma in particular.”

Addressing the Coalition 2030 launch, Mr Naughten accepted that some of the 17 goals would represent a significant challenge for the Government.

Goals

Suzanne Keatinge of Dóchas said the goals were about making sure that those with the least were not left behind.

Ms Keatinge pointed out that spending on overseas development aid in Ireland was at 0.3 per cent of gross national product, which was the lowest in 17 years.

“It has to be about adequate financing so we can meet all the targets in the 17 goals,” she told the conference.

Responding to Mr Naughten’s speech, Oisín Coghlan of Friends of the Earth said: “Despite his passionate speech today there is no sign the Government and civil service accept that the sustainable development goals mean transformational change in Ireland by 2030.”

“The first chance to prove otherwise will be the publication of the draft action plan on climate pollution in the coming weeks.”