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Green MEPs push for stronger air quality legislation

Revision of EU Air Quality Directive comes as Cork becomes the first in Ireland to celebrate Clean Air Day, in an effort to tackle air quality issues in the city.

Green MEPs in the European Parliament, including MEP for Ireland South Grace O’Sullivan, are pushing this week for improved EU legislation on air quality. The revised Directive on Ambient Air Quality will be debated in the European Parliament next Tuesday following months of stalled negotiations between legislators.

The Parliament report, supported by Green and progressive MEPs, aims to align new air pollution limits with World Health Organisation recommendations and require countries like Ireland to introduce roadmaps to achieve improvements in air quality. Ireland meets most EU air quality standards, but falls foul of many WHO limits. The Directive would also require a better network of air quality monitoring stations for air pollution ‘hotspots’ and for public amenities like hospitals and schools. Green MEPs in particular sought air quality improvements for rural communities. The conservative EPP Group has opposed efforts to improve air quality regulations, with their lead negotiator calling the improved guidelines "too ambitious".

Speaking from the European Parliament in Brussels, MEP for Ireland South Grace O’Sullivan said “Generally speaking Ireland has performed well in terms of air quality, especially following our reduction in fossil fuel use for home heating, and this has saved lives. However there are still a number of black spots which we need to confront. Despite significant lobbying from large industrial interests it looks like we will make a serious step forward this week. Green MEPs have proven once again that we are the driving force behind policies improving quality of life.”

On Thursday 7 September, Cork City celebrates UN Clean Air Day with a number of free events. Highlights of the day include a light show at Cork City Hall, an air quality information hub hosted in the Library on Grand Parade, a lunch-time cycle to Fitzgerald’s Park and a Clean Air Day Roundtable discussion in City Hall.

On the island of Ireland the number of premature deaths related to air pollution is estimated at 2,600 every year.

MEP Grace O’Sullivan recently announced that she would seek the nomination to run again as the Green Party’s candidate in the European elections for Ireland South in 2024.

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