The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has assumed the mantle of our national conscience — in environmental matters at least. Whether we take any notice remains to be seen.
In its latest report, the agency deals with air quality — an issue at the root of an estimated 1,510 premature deaths in 2014.
The EPA warns that burning solid fuels for home heating is the primary way we pollute air we breathe. Emissions from vehicles were the second biggest threat.
In a country where so much of our electricity is generated by burning coal or other solid fuel, it is difficult to bring about real change in this area though earlier legislation banning coal in urban settings has paid rich dividends.
However, the great firewood windfall delivered by Ophelia will have an impact on Irish air quality for years to come.
Just yesterday Professor John FitzGerald, chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council, warned the Citizens’ Assembly that we will miss our 2020 emission targets by more than expected and that emissions are set to rise between now and 2020 rather than fall, leading to EU fines.
Ireland is also a “very long way from our target” of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Government policy on food production and a refusal to tackle other issues contribute to this failure in a startling way.
Not only will services be in jeopardy because of EU fines but our health is threatened too.
This is insane and will cost us dearly.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved