Birds flying over water

Date released: Mar 30 2020 – Environmental Protection Agency Ireland

The dominant source of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide in our air is traffic. The EPA has carried out an analysis of ambient nitrogen dioxide at its national monitoring stations over recent days:

  1. between the same time period this year and last and
  2. between February and March of this year

Stations in Blanchardstown, St. Johns Road, Winetavern St (Dublin) and Cork South Link Road saw a decrease in nitrogen dioxide levels. Stations at Ringsend, Davitt Rd, Ballyfermot and Dun Laoghaire saw increases in nitrogen dioxide levels. Many other stations showed similar levels between the periods compared. Where there were increases/decreases, the variations were within 20% of baseline levels. This level of variation is not uncommon for weather-related factors.

All of the EPA’s hourly air quality data is on the EPA website – nitrogen dioxide is the pollutant of interest from traffic and we know reduced traffic congestion should decrease the levels of this pollutant.

With regard to Air Quality Policy, which is led by the Department of Communications and Climate Action, the Climate Action Plan includes a number of actions which will also have a significant impact on reducing emissions and improving air quality, including:

    • Putting 180,000 electric vehicles on our roads by 2025 and almost 1m by 2030
    • Ensuring the EV charging network underpins public confidence
    • Decarbonising the public transport fleet
    • Develop a 5 year cycling strategy and roll out 200km of new cycle lanes through bus connects
    • Developing a new Park and Ride Strategy, to reduce congestion and lower journey times
    • Developing a regulatory framework on low emission zones and parking pricing policies, and provide local authorities with the power to restrict access to certain parts of a city or a town to zero emission vehicles only
    • Legislating for no new fossil fuel vehicles to be sold from 2030 onwards.

In relation to improving air quality in Ireland, work is also continuing on the National Clean Air Strategy, which will be the first all of government response reducing air pollution and promoting cleaner air. Emissions from the transport sector, including idling, will be considered in the context of the Strategy. Restrictions on car idling, including outside of schools, will be considered as part of this strategy.