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14th May 2019 | Health, Press Releases

Greens call for action on air quality

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The Green Party has called for more action from the European Union; the Irish Government, and local authorities on urban air quality. The Party’s European candidate for Dublin Ciarán Cuffe and his colleague local election candidate Michael Pidgeon placed an air mask on the face of James Joyce on North Earl Street, Dublin 1 at noon on Tuesday 14th May.

MEP Candidate Councillor Ciarán Cuffe said:

“We know that air pollution is causing 950 premature deaths per year in Ireland.* The last air monitoring point in the North Inner City was closed down by the EPA last year, despite Minister Naughten promising us state-of-the-art air monitoring. The EPA data is a mess to navigate, and doesn’t tell us what is causing the pollution. The limited monitoring is concentrated in affluent areas. Dublin is at risk during ‘temperature inversion‘ weather.  We need to ramp up our monitoring (like London) and ban dirty vehicles from inner city streets.”

Air Pollution is a global concern due to its impacts on human health, the environment and climate change. The quality of the air we breathe is so important to our health and well-being. Poor air quality has a real impact on health and takes years off people’s lives. It is estimated that four people in Ireland die prematurely every day from illnesses relating to poor air quality. We know that air pollution in the greater Dublin area breaches the World Health Organisation’s guidelines on a regular basis. Our air quality monitoring system is seriously deficient. We need to look to our European neighbours to learn how adequately monitor and tackle our air pollution levels. 

 Green Party local election candidate for Dublin’s south-west inner city Michael Pidgeon said:

“Air quality is a major political priority in cities across the world. But Ireland’s leaders simply haven’t woken up to the issue.

“London is taxing the dirtiest vehicles and auditing the air at schools. Shenzhen’s 16,000 buses are 100% electric. Oslo bans cars at peak pollution times. Yet Dublin doesn’t even bother to  monitor air pollution consistently.

“On May 24th, we need to fill our councils with representatives who’ll take air pollution seriously. Elected Green councillors will promote zero-emission transport, better fuels for homes, and cleaner construction methods.”

Cuffe went on to say:

“As MEP for Dublin I will: 

1. Work with to ensure that the standard of monitoring of air quality in Dublin is greatly improved upon in the short term, with an increase in the number of monitoring units and the introduction of real time data for the city.  

2. Work to ensure that these monitors are placed in the areas that need them the most, in particular in high emissions parts of Dublin, communities close to the M50 and Dublin Airport. 

3. Look to the results of the EU-funded project iSCAPE – Improving the Smart Control of Air Pollution in Europe, a trans European project which is using smart technologies to find sustainable solutions to air pollution and emissions. 

4. Looks to examples of best practice in improving air quality in other European cities, for example, Stockholm, Tallinn, and work to bring those learnings to bear on Dublin.

5. Work with Green Party colleagues to push for cleaner, more efficient transport options, especially in relation to bus fleet. 

6. Work with Green Party colleagues to ensure the delivery of pedestrian plazas and green spaces in the City Centre and other urban centres.

7. Work with the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that existing EU Ambient Air Quality Directives and associated standards and limits are met. “

*Note

-950 premature deaths figure comes from http://breathelife2030.org/city-data-page/?city=2475

-Cuffe’s full position paper is available herehttp://bit.ly/2VAuOwN

PHOTO CAPTION: From left Michael Pidgeon, James Joyce, Ciarán Cuffe.