European Environment Agency’s state of the European Environment report

Date released: Nov 29 2005

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today welcomed the publication of the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) third state of the European Environment report.  A five-year assessment, the report provides an overview of the environment in 31 countries and identifies key challenges for policy makers.

As the EEA’s National Focal Point in Ireland, the EPA provides national data for the purpose of the EEA’s assessments of the European environment.

Commenting on the report, Dr Mary Kelly, Director General, EPA said,  “While Ireland’s environment continues to be of generally good quality, there is no room for complacency.  Rapid economic development in recent years has placed additional strains on the environment, particularly in the area of waste production and air emissions.   Our environmental performance must at least match our economic performance - and exceed it in areas such as waste and air emissions where environmental improvement is required.” 

“The EEA report calls for deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to limit the effects of climate change,” she continued.  “It also highlights acidifying gases as an issue.  Both of these challenges were identified as environmental priorities for Ireland in our national state of the environment report published last year. Meeting our international commitments on greenhouse gases and those gases that contribute to the problem of acid rain in Europe require fundamental change in key sectors of the economy.”

The EEA report complimented Irish citizens for showing environmental leadership by dramatically reducing their use of plastic bags and complying with the smoking ban in bars and restaurants.  Positive outcomes also included reduced serious emissions in rivers, increased use of wind energy, and an increased municipal waste recycling rate of 28 per cent.

On the negative side, Ireland received a low score on municipal waste generation. Dr Kelly said, “All sectors need to focus more on minimisation and prevention of waste. Ireland’s environmental achievements in recent years are being outstripped by overall growth in waste production.  If Ireland is to address the waste management challenge, we will need to work together across industries and across all areas of policy.”