A breath of fresh air

May 18, 2022 in Featured News, News

The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice is one of a number of organisations that has made a submission to the Government’s Clear Air Strategy Public Consultation, aimed at reducing pollution and poor health. The final submission date was Tuesday 3 May 2022.

They have called for a new Clean Air Act that would supersede legislation on air pollution that dates back to 1987.

Other groups who have made submissions include Age Action, Community Work Ireland, the Disability Federation of Ireland, the Independent Living Movement Ireland, Not Here Not Anywhere, and the Think Tank for Action on Social Change.

Official data says that poor air quality causes about 1,400 premature deaths in Ireland through conditions such as respiratory illnesses.

The JCFJ and other organisations note that poor air disproportionately affects marginalised groups such as travellers, people living in areas of disadvantage, and those with disabilities.

Read more about the submission from the JCFJ below, from Dr Ciara Murphy, the JCFJ’s Environmental Policy Officer.

Everyone has the right to breathe clean air

We at the Jesuit Centre of Faith and Justice were delighted to join several other groups to make a
submission to Community Law and Mediation’s Clean Air Strategy Public Consultation 2022.

Environmental pollution, like climate change, is not experienced equally across society. Where you
live, the quality of your housing and your access to healthcare can all have an impact on how much
you are affected by air pollution.

For many marginalised communities, poor air quality is a constant reality. The Environmental Protection Agency has noted that “people of lower socio-economic status tend to be disproportionately exposed to environmental pollution (such as air pollution), and this may be exacerbated in the future without appropriate policies to protect those most vulnerable
in our society”.

Our submission to the Clean Air Strategy Public Consultation advises that the proposed strategy
must be grounded in everyone’s right to breath clean air and should have specific measures
introduced to identify and address areas of inequality around this – including reducing energy
poverty. The overall aim of the strategy should be to achieve clean air across Ireland.

JCFJ’s support of this submission comes in the wake of our participation in the recent “Clean Air
Together” citizen science project, coordinated by the Environmental Protection Agency. This project
measured the concentration of Nitrogen Dioxide, a pollutant emitted by cars and other vehicles,
across the county of Dublin and found that inner-city locations were most affected. Collaborating
with others to influence policy and identify and measure the existing problems is an important
aspect of the environmental advocacy that we do in JCFJ.

As part of the Jesuit Province of Ireland, we are leading an ecological project which focuses on our
own carbon footprint and the actions we can take to mitigate climate change. Being part of the
Clean Air Strategy Public Consultation brings our commitment to advocate for climate action and a
just transition to a low-carbon society to a wider audience.

Dr Ciara Murphy
Environmental Policy Advocate
Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice