12 February 2021
The vast majority of the country believes that the environment is a valuable asset, according to a new survey.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today published its 2020 Year in Review report, coupled with a poll measuring attitudes towards the environment.
The survey found that 89 per cent of adults agree that our environment is valuable and that 84 per cent of people felt access to nature was important for their mental health in 2020.
54 per cent of respondents saw climate change as one of the top three environmental concerns facing Ireland, and 4 in 5 adults reported taking steps to help protect the environment in 2020.
The survey’s results were “extremely encouraging” to the EPA’s Director-General Laura Burke.
“Now is the time for an overarching environmental policy position for Ireland – to be clear on our ambition to protect Ireland’s environment in the short, medium and long-term.
Such a policy position would provide a national vision that all government departments, agencies, businesses, communities and individuals can sign up to, to play their part in protecting our environment,” Ms. Burke said.
The body published a number of reports on waste, water, radon and air quality throughout 2020 and also published the State of the Environment report, which according to Ms. Burke, “provides a bedrock of research upon which future decisions on environmental protection and priorities can be based.”
An “overarching” environmental policy
In its over 400-paged State of the Environment report published in November, the EPA warned that the outlook for Ireland’s environment was not “optimistic”.
“The overall quality of Ireland’s environment is not what it should be, and the outlook is not optimistic unless we accelerate the implementation of solutions across all sectors and society,” Ms. Burke said at the time.
In order to take meaningful action, the intersectional issues of climate change, the biodiversity crisis, and water and air quality cannot be, “looked at in isolation, as they are complex, interconnected, and need to be tackled in an integrated way,” she warned.
The EPA’s report also confirmed that Ireland is failing to curb its emissions and meet its own climate targets.
But the agency also noted at the time that the task at hand is “more than meeting targets” and that the real goal for the state in the face of the climate crisis is “to have a resilient and stable society and economy, one that is carbon neutral through its own efforts and natural attributes,” Ms. Burke said.
The report also stressed that nature and wild spaces must have better safeguards due to the “unprecedented pressure” they faced.