Ireland failing to meet EU air quality targets

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Digital Desk staff

Ireland has continued to fail to meet certain targets to reduce emissions and improve air quality agreed by the European Union, according to the latest data regarding environmental indicators released by the CSO.

Ireland has performed poorly in reducing emissions affecting air quality since the year 2000 compared with other EU member states, according to the data.

The national emission ceilings directive of the European Union sets national emission reduction commitments for member states for five major air pollutants: nitrogen oxides, non-methane volatile organic compounds, sulphur dioxide, ammonia, and fine particulate matter.

These pollutants contribute to poor air quality, leading to significant negative impacts on both human health and the environment.

The CSO data found that Ireland ranked 18th worst for emissions of particulate matter in 2017 relative to the year 2000, 11th worst for sulphur dioxide, seventh worst for ammonia, and worst for both emissions of nitrogen oxides and non-methane volatile organic compounds.

Worst

The data found that Ireland’s nitrogen oxides emissions fell from 174,900 tonnes in 1990 to 107,800 tonnes in 2018.

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However, this was still 66 per cent above the national emissions ceiling for 2010 of 65,000 tonnes and slightly below the 2017 figure of 108,000 tonnes.

In 2017, four EU member states – Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and Ireland – were above their 2010 national emissions ceiling for nitrogen oxides. Ireland had the worst level of emissions, at 70 per cent above its emissions ceiling.

With regards to emissions of non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC), the CSO data found Ireland’s emissions fell by 23.3 per cent from 143,100 tonnes in 1990 to 109,800 in 2018.

However, the 2018 figure was still 99.6 per cent above the 2010 national emissions ceiling of 55,000 tonnes.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the sector with the highest emissions over the period and accounted for almost 40 per cent of total NMVOC emissions in 2018.

Ireland had the highest level of NMVOC emissions among EU member states in 2017, relative to its 2010 national emissions ceiling at 106 per cent.

Emissions of sulphur dioxide was one area where Ireland’s emissions have fallen below the national emissions ceiling target since 2009, with emissions falling from 183,600 tonnes in 1990 to 12,300 tonnes in 2018.

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