Date released: Feb 11 2016, 8:55 AM
Last year, 2015, saw a major step forward in global and local actions on climate change, according to Laura Burke, Director General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). She was speaking at the release of a review of EPA activities in 2015.
"We saw the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate change in December,” she said. “This provides an ambitious, legally binding framework for global action. In Ireland, climate legislation was enacted for the purpose of pursuing the transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050.”
Recent EPA data and reports have highlighted that Ireland must follow a pathway to decarbonising energy, transport and heating.
“The agriculture, forestry and land use sectors should achieve effective greenhouse gas emissions neutrality by 2050. This would take planning, investment and time, she said, but can be achieved in the overall framework of national, EU and global commitments.”
She went on to say that on air quality, two issues need to be tackled.
“We need to tackle transport emissions in large urban areas and emissions from smoky fuels in our small towns around the country. We also called for movement towards the adoption of stricter air quality guidelines in EU legislation. Though Ireland did not exceed any legal EU limit values in 2014 for ambient air quality at any of the air quality network monitoring stations, particulate matter and ozone exceeded World Health Organisation guideline values at some monitoring stations. As legal standards, these values would provide a greater level of protection for air quality and public health across Europe and in Ireland.”
An intrinsic part of the EPA’s function is its role as knowledge provider and the Agency places a huge emphasis on finding new and better ways of communicating with citizens and engaging them in the protection of the environment.
“In 2015, we redesigned the Ireland’s Environment web resource to allow users to more easily view the data and also download it in various formats. We were very pleased to win the 2016 eGoverment General Award for the resource in recent weeks. The EPA’s mapping service, My Local Environment, provides local environmental information within a 1 – 15km radius. In 2015 the online resource was expanded to include the national radon map. The EPA also developed an Android version of the successful ‘See it? Say it!’ iOS app, providing a convenient way for people to report environmental pollution using their mobile phones. ‘See it? Say it!’ links to the local authority-run www.fixyourstreet.ie web service.”
In 2015, the EPA also developed its new EPA Strategic Plan 2016-2020, the fifth formal strategic plan since the EPA was established.
“Our new Strategic Plan is being published at a time when we are seeing the signs of an economic recovery in Ireland,” Laura Burke continued. “Now, more than ever, it is vital that the environment is placed centre-stage at the heart of everyday decisions. A thriving, clean environment provides the very basis for good lifestyles and it is in this context that we have identified the overarching theme for this Strategic Plan, ‘Our Environment –Our Wellbeing’.”
The EPA Year in Review 2015 is available on the EPA website.
Notes to Editor:
EPA Key Statistics for 2015: