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Naughten announces public consultation on Ireland’s first National Clean Air Strategy, “Cleaning our Air”

Minster Naughten also announces the Government’s commitment to initiate a National Dialogue on Climate Action

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten T.D. today launched a public consultation on Ireland’s first National Clean Air Strategy, “Cleaning our Air”. The Strategy will provide the framework for whole of Government policies and drive actions to reduce harmful emissions from a range of sources, and clean our air. The Minister made his announcement as he launched the Coalition 2030 in Mansion House today (Wednesday 1st March 2017).
Speaking at today’s launch Minister Naughten said that “While there have been successes in the past – the ‘smoky coal ban’ which applies in 26 urban areas nationwide has proved very effective in reducing particulate matter and sulphur dioxide levels- we have to go further. Building on those past successes to secure the future of our environment for the generations to come I am delighted to announce today a public consultation on Ireland’s first National Clean Air Strategy. The Strategy, which I aim to finalise by the end of the year, will provide the framework for whole-of -Government policies and drive actions to reduce harmful emissions from a range of sources, and clean our air. Home heating remains a key source of air pollution, in particular from solid fuel and smoky coal outside the ban areas, and I am committed to extending a ban nationwide for the 2018 home heating season. The strategy will go beyond this however, and will also address a wide range of other national policies that are relevant to air quality including transport, energy and agriculture. I look forward to receiving a broad range of views in response to the consultation, from stakeholders, from the general public, and from young people for whom we hold the environment in trust.”

The Minister also announced that DCCAE officials are hosting a Clean Air Dialogue with the European Commission in Dublin, along with national stakeholders over the next two days. The aim of the Dialogue is to improve our national capacity to develop effective clean air policies through engagement with international experts and national stakeholders. The Dialogue provides an opportunity to bring together stakeholders and competent authorities to exchange experiences and good practises that can enhance the Department’s approach to policy development.

The consultation paper entitled ‘Cleaning our Air’ will be available on the Departments website. The consultation period will run until Friday 28th April 2017.

National Dialogue on Climate Action
Minister Naughten also announced details today on the Government’s commitment to initiate a National Dialogue on Climate Action. It will facilitate discussion, deliberation and maximising consensus on appropriate responses to the challenges we face.

The Minister said “My department is already working on projects to increase youth and community involvement in climate action activities, such as the BT Young Scientist competition and the Green Schools Programme. As part of the Dialogue, we are now partnering with Green Schools to run a National Climate Change Action and Awareness Programme in schools across the country, including a Climate Action Expo to take place in October this year. I am committed to facilitating the greatest possible level of engagement as we embark on our journey of transition.”

The Dialogue will run initially for a period of two years. A Steering Group will be established and a Secretariat will be put in place to administer the process.

Notes for Editors

Clean Air Strategy
There is growing evidence that air pollution causes more damage to human health than previously understood. We now know that air pollution causes many of the major health concerns of our time, including asthma, cardiovascular diseases including stroke and heart disease as wells as cancer. We in Ireland are not immune to these impacts as air pollution is estimated to cause approximately 4 deaths per day in this country. In addition to this, the health impacts from air pollution through sickness and ill health can result in absence from work and reduced productivity, increased expenditure on medicines and increased hospital admissions. The European Commission estimates that the economic cost of air pollution in Ireland is €2 billion per year, including the loss of 382,000 workdays.

National Dialogue on Climate Action
Regional gatherings will be convened shortly with several other initiatives to be implemented in the coming months, including:
· trialling innovative consultation techniques nationally, regionally and locally. These could include Public Participation Networks, Climate Gatherings, People Talk and Citizen Juries, The People’s Conversation, and Climate Justice: Evidence to Action
· holding a Green Schools Expo 2017 Climate Action in October 2017
· launching at the Expo a National Competition for Proposals to Support Exemplar Communities. This will facilitate school children becoming a key link to their wider communities
· establishing a series of professionally moderated and accessible expert lectures/debates on key policy issues to be considered under the Dialogue
· leveraging wider events and initiatives, including those run by other Departments/Agencies. This will include examining the report and recommendations of the Citizens Assembly, which will consider how the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling Climate Change, later this year
· participating in joint events in relation to the climate implications of our spatial planning choices. In this regard, it is critically important that we are adopting a coordinated and coherent approach to integrating the on-going development of both the Dialogue and “Ireland 2040 – Our Plan” (National Panning Framework)
· establishing a clear brand identity, communications plan and media presence for the NDCA
· ensuring ongoing engagement with the political system, including an Oireachtas Climate Day in October
· putting in place an appropriate mechanism to monitor and improve the effectiveness of the Dialogue