Wednesday, 4 October 2006
Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Question 116: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his Department's strategy, including timetables, to ensure that Ireland can fulfil our EU National Emissions Ceiling Directive commitments to limit specific air pollutants, particularly Nitrogen Oxides, by 2010, in view of the high level of cars on Irish roads. [30889/06]
Batt O'Keeffe (Minister of State with special responsibility for Housing, Urban Renewal and Developing Areas, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Environmental Protection Agency's most recent report on Air Quality in Ireland, published in July 2006, concludes that air quality is generally good throughout the country and complies with current EU air quality standards for all pollutants, including nitrogen oxides.
The EU Directive on National Emission Ceilings specifies challenging aggregate national ceilings for four transboundary pollutants, including Nox, which must be achieved by 2010. The National Programme on transboundary pollutants, which the Government approved in 2005, provides for the progressive reduction of these emissions through a usage of in policies and measures in different sectors. These include:
improved effectiveness of pollution abatement technologies in road vehicles, as a result of the progressive reduction of the sulphur content of both petrol and diesels;
emission reductions in the power generation sector arising from implementation of the 2001 Large Combustion Plants Directive;
replacement of old, high emitting oil-fired power plants with new state-of-the-art plants; and
ongoing implementation of integrated pollution and prevention control licensing for existing industrial plant.
There has been a downward trend in these transboundary pollutants since 2001 and this is projected to continue to the 2010 target-year, although it is clear that the nitrogen oxides ceiling presents Ireland with a particular challenge given increasing vehicle numbers and use of road transport.
Work is underway in my Department to complete a review of the National Programme, including any necessary updating or revision, by the end of 2006. A significant part of the work involves updating the emission projections up to 2010 for all sectors and the underlying policies and measures.
In addition to the range of policies and measures in the Programme published in 2005, further progress towards meeting the 2010 ceilings will be achieved through measures that have subsequently been announced. These include:
the promotion of greater energy efficiency and the recent increase in the target for electricity generated from renewable sources;
ongoing improvement in the environmental performance of road vehicles, due to the adoption of more-stringent EURO standards for motor cars and vans; and
greater efficiency of road usage through the Government investment in the Transport 21 programme.