Clare Fianna Fáil Senator and spokesperson on Climate Action, Timmy Dooley, has introduced a bill to the Oireachtas that will require the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications to introduce regulations within 12 months of the passage of the legislation to prohibit the sale, marketing, distribution and burning of bituminous (smoky) coal on a nationwide basis.
Fianna Fáil committed to introducing a nationwide ban on the burning of smoky coal in its 2020 election manifesto.
Senator Dooley said, “This Bill is about public health and the fact that major coal companies are delaying action to improve the health of thousands of families in Ireland.
“The majority of Ireland is not covered by Low Smoke Zones and due to the patch work nature of the existing ban, there is very significant use of smoky coal in areas that are currently designated as Low Smoke Zones. The current approach is failing to meet the health needs of Irish citizens.”
The European Environment Agency Report Air Quality in Europe 2020 indicated that in 2016 there were 1,410 premature mortalities arising from air pollution in Ireland. The vast majority of these, 1,300, are attributable to fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which in Ireland is primarily associated with domestic solid fuel burning. The same report indicates significantly earlier mortality for those deaths.
Senator Dooley added, “From a wider climate change policy perspective, very significant reductions in carbon emissions arise from a move to a nationwide smoky coal ban. Most importantly, a nationwide smoky coal ban will save lives and improve health outcomes.”