Air quality improvements a positive unintended consequence of the pandemic

April 24, 2020 2 min read

Air quality improvements a positive unintended consequence of the pandemic

Friday 24 April 2020

Green Party NI Deputy Leader Cllr Malachai O’Hara commented as statistics showed a 30% reduction in air pollutant nitrogen dioxide from the same period last year. 

The North Belfast Councillor commented:

“This pandemic has radically altered our day to day lives, it’s ended business as usual and forced us to re-evaluate.  

“The commute to work is gone for many, lots of people have hung up the car keys and almost all of us have stopped flying altogether.

“A notable improvement in air quality has come as an unintended consequence. The Green Party has worked hard across the past few years to raise awareness of the pollution problem and bring forward policies aimed at improving the picture. 

“Across Belfast, harmful nitrogen dioxide levels are down by 30% according to preliminary analysis by experts at the University of York. Importantly, many of us can feel that the air is cleaner and we are breathing easier since lockdown. We’re hearing the birdsong usually drowned out by diesel engines.

“Inner city areas of Belfast suffer some of the worst air quality in the city. Studies have shown the devastating potential effects of air pollution - respiratory conditions, miscarriage, dementia, early death. Emerging data is also showing that rates of death from COVID-19 are higher for people living in the most polluted areas. 

“So why would we want to rush back to business as usual when that normal was leading us into climate breakdown and making us sick?

“This crisis has been unprecedented, painful and horrible but our citizens have shown remarkable resilience. We’ve connected with colleagues and family online, we’ve worked from home and many of us have walked and cycled like never before. In short we’ve made the changes that many told us were not possible.  

“American economist Milton Friedman once said that “Only a crisis, real or perceived - produces real change.” Let’s take the opportunity to reimagine our society and make the change for a happier, healthier future for all citizens.”

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