Community Law & Mediation (CLM) is marking UN International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies today (7 September) with a series of free environmental justice advice clinics focusing on air pollution and other environmental issues that affect communities across Ireland.
CLM’s Centre for Environmental Justice, launched earlier this year by Mary Robinson, seeks to empower communities in relation to environmental justice issues that affect them, through free legal advice clinics, community talks and training courses.
It is inviting people to book a free appointment for its next environmental justice advice clinic (on 21 September) by contacting 01 847 7804.
Air pollution is one of the greatest environmental risks to human health and is responsible for 1,300 premature deaths in Ireland each year.
According to the Irish Heart Foundation, 12,000 people in Ireland could die by 2030 from cardiovascular disease linked to air pollution.
Chief executive and environmental justice solicitor Rose Wall said: “Against the backdrop of our rapidly changing climate and its impact on how we live our lives, there is a greater urgency around the need to address environmental justice issues, such as exposure to air pollution, particularly in communities experiencing disadvantage.”
She added that, in a first for the UK earlier this year, an inquest in London found that air pollution was a cause in the death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah, who died of respiratory failure after being exposed to ‘excessive air pollution’.
The child had lived her whole life beside a busy road in a community where air pollution exceeded national and EU legal limits.
“Through our environmental justice advice clinics, we hope to empower the communities we work with on these issues, and advocate on their behalf to ensure fairness and equality in our collective response to environmental harms and climate change,” said Wall.
CLM has also appointed Clodagh Daly of Climate Case Ireland as the manager of the Centre for Environmental Justice.
Meanwhile, highly-polluting solid fuels are to be totally banned in Ireland.
New standards for domestic solid fuels will be introduced across the State by next September, to remove the most polluting solid fuels from market.
Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan, said he wants to allow solid fuel suppliers time to adapt their businesses.
Smoky coal is already banned in 42 towns and cities but is widely available elsewhere.
Ten grams of smoke
All coal and related-products nationwide, including manufactured solid fuel and peat briquettes, will be required to emit less than ten grams of smoke per hour when burned, reducing to five grams by 2025.
The sulphur content permitted for all fuels will also be halved over time.
Wood sold for heating will have to have a moisture content of 25% or less reducing to 20% within four years.
Wet wood will be sold with drying instructions.
The minister said that people can still have fires, under the new regulations, but must use drier woods that are more efficient.