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Air pollution killing 310,000 people every year in EU - Bairbre de Brún

21 February, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today said that people will be 'shocked' by reports that 310,000 people die annually from the effects of air pollution in the European Union.

Ms de Brún was responding to an assessment by the European Commission which also revealed that air pollution is reducing normal life expectancy in Europe by almost nine months on average. The report by the European Commission is due to be presented to the 'Clean Air for Europe' steering group in Brussels today.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms de Brún said:

"I think people will be shocked by this report by the European Commission. It will be of particular concern for us in Ireland where there is such a high rate of respiratory illness.

"It is difficult to comprehend that 310,000 people will die prematurely as a consequence of exposure to air pollutants. That figure is roughly equivalent to three times the population of Derry City. We are dealing with a serious problem which will require a unified and effective response.

"Whilst the report shows that Ireland is not the worst in relation to air pollution, a recent report found that carbon dioxide emissions in the 6 Counties were 1.9% higher than in 2002. A complete change of direction is needed by government and industry if we are to tackle this serious problem.

"The amount of vehicles on our roads is contributing greatly to air pollution. Sinn Féin believes that proper investment in an effective public transport system will go some way to cutting down the need for reliance on private transport.

"The Kyoto protocol goes a small way towards cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions, but much more needs to be done. The second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol begins in 2012, and we need to be developing a global plan for a more ambitious approach to climate change and air pollution. The world faces a stark choice, continue along this current path or actively begin to address the serious implications of environmental disaster.

"The European Union must lead the way in the fight for a safe clean environment. Sinn Féin is committed to playing its part in bringing forward and supporting policies which effectively combat climate change". ENDS

Editors Note

Ms de Brún is a member of the EU Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.

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