Motion to Ban Smoky Coal

Today in the Dáil, the Labour Party will be calling on the Government to implement a long delayed nationwide ban on smoky coal. I joined Kieran Cuddihy on Newstalk Breakfast to discuss why I feel the ban is necessary.

You can read Labour’s full Motion below. You can listen back to my interview, here:

The Government is dragging it’s feet on saving lives, by refusing to introduce the long awaiting national ban on smoky coal. It is engaged in playing politics, and kicking to touch an issue that is affecting the lives of thousands of people.

The EPA has called for this ban, as have many other campaigning groups. The EPA have said that pollution from smoky coal is responsible for 1,000 deaths a year. At its core this is a serious health issue that warrants immediate action. Air pollution damages lung and heart health. No other industry would be allowed threaten lives like this.

There has been a drastic deterioration in air quality across our towns and cities in recent years, and the Government has given into legal threats from suppliers. We know the ban has been in place for years in our cities and larger towns without challenge. Now is the time to act.


Motion to Ban Smoky Coal

DÁIL ÉIREANN

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Notice of motion re: Environmental Matters

Dáil Éireann: 

recognises that – 

– Environmental pollution and degradation are all too often the by-products of our economy;

– The European Union operates the “polluter pays principles” since 1987, and today this principle is enshrined in Article 191 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

– While overall air quality in Ireland is relatively good compared to other industrialised countries, poor air quality persists in many areas due to traffic and the burning of solid fuels, leading to the premature deaths of over 1,500 people every year according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);

– The water quality of nearly half of Ireland’s river sources is unsatisfactory, according to the EPA, and less than 1% of river sections can be described as “pristine”, while nine of our rivers have the status of “seriously polluted”;

– Thousands of tonnes of waste are collected annually from litter or illegal dumping;

– 150 or more quarries around Ireland are unauthorised and unregulated, and cause pollution and the destruction of habitat;

declares that – 

– Ireland needs to adopt fundamental changes in our economic model, in favour of stronger environmental regulation, to prevent harm and to hold accountable those who cause environmental harm;

– The best model for Ireland is to emulate North European social democratic market economies, such as exist in Denmark, Finland, Sweden or the Netherlands;

calls on the Government to – 

– Recognise that under-regulation of economic activity or lax enforcement of existing rules allows greater levels of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions to occur;

– Legislate to reinforce the polluter pays principle, including a requirement for greenhouse gas emissions to be included as a core component of company accounts in enterprises with 50 or more employees and all enterprises in highly polluting industries;

– Immediately enact a nationwide ban on smoky coal, which has already been proven to work in many larger urban areas without legal challenge;

– Produce a National Clean Air Strategy;

– Produce a National Clean Water Strategy;

– Urgently present and implement a plan to regulate all quarries and to eliminate illegal dumps;

– Provide a quantified account of how the measures in the Government’s climate action plan will reduce Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions to reach the target of 33 million tonnes by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.

— Joan Burton, Brendan Howlin, Alan Kelly, Jan O’Sullivan, Willie Penrose, Brendan Ryan, Seán Sherlock.