Environmental Indicators

ClimateStatus / Trend
Greenhouse Gas Emissions: By Sector amber face
Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Projections to 2020 red face
Effort Sharing Decision Targets  Status for Indicator at Amber

Greenhouse Gas Emissions By Sector

Ireland's emissions profile has changed considerably since 1990, with the contribution from transport more than doubling and the share from agriculture reducing since 1998.  Agriculture is the largest source of emissions, representing 34 per cent of total national emissions in 2018*.  Both the transport and energy industries sectors represent 20 and 17 per cent respectively, of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2018.  The transport sector has been the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, showing a 10 per cent increase between 2013 and 2018.

*Note these figures are based on the provisional figures for 2018, final estimates will be submitted under EU MMR 525/2013 by 15th March 2020.

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GHG Emissions Projections to 2020

The 2020 EU Effort Sharing target commits Ireland to reducing emissions from those sectors that are not covered by the Emissions Trading Scheme (agriculture, transport, residential, commercial, non-energy intensive industry and waste) to 20 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.  Ireland breached its annual obligation target for the first time in 2016 and again in 2017 and 2018*.  While there is over-achievement of annual obligations in the early years of the compliance period (2013-2020), this will not be sufficient to allow Ireland to cumulatively meet its compliance obligations.  Current policies and measures to 2020**, including targets for energy efficiency in our homes and businesses and increasing renewable fuel use in transport and heating, will not be sufficient to meet 2020 emission reduction targets. 

See further detail in the EPA report Greenhouse Gas Emissions Projections 2018 to 2040.

*Note the inventory emissions are based on the provisional figures for 2018, final estimates will be submitted under EU MMR 525/2013 by 15 March 2020.

** Emissions projections are based on projections published in June 2019 with a baseline inventory of 1990-2017, measures outlined in the Climate action Plan 2019 will be included in 2020 projections.

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Effort Sharing Decision

Ireland’s non-Emissions Trading System (ETS) greenhouse gas emissions for 2013, 2014 and 2015 are in compliance with the European Union’s Effort Sharing Decision (ESD) targets, however, Ireland is not in compliance for 2016 (299.3kt CO2 eq) and 2017 (2,943.7kt CO2 eq) and 2018* (5,166.8 kt CO2 eq) above the annual limit.

This Decision sets 2020 targets for non-ETS sector emissions and annual binding limits for the period 2013-2020. Ireland’s target is to reduce ESD emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels.

*Note the inventory emissions are based on the provisional figures for 2018, final estimates will be submitted under EU MMR 525/2013 by 15 March 2020.

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Progress to targets

In terms of compliance with 2020 targets, Ireland’s non-Emissions Trading Scheme (non-ETS) emissions are projected to be 5% and 6% below 2005 levels in 2020 under the With Existing Measures and With Additional Measures scenarios, respectively (based on the latest emissions projections published in June 2019).  This compares to the target of 20% below 2005 levels by 2020.

In terms of 2030 reduction targets the EU Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) requires that Ireland reduce its non-ETS emissions by 30% on 2005 levels by 2030. The Effort Sharing Regulation maintains existing flexibilities under the current Effort Sharing Decision (e.g. banking, borrowing, buying and selling between Member States). It also provides for two additional flexibilities – use of ETS allowances and credit from action undertaken in the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector. The latest projections indicate that Ireland will exceed the carbon budget over the period 2021-2030 by 52 - 67 Mt CO2 equivalent with the gap potentially narrowing to 7 - 22 Mt CO2 equivalent if both the ETS and LULUCF flexibilities described in the Regulation are fully utilised.

The projected gap to the 2021-2030 ESR target is strongly affected by the fuel price (e.g. oil) used in estimating the energy projections. A sensitivity analysis using lower fuel price projections shows that, Ireland will exceed the carbon budget over the period 2021-2030 by 86 – 101 Mt CO2 equivalent or by 40 - 56 Mt CO2 with full use of the ETS and LULUCF flexibilities.

The graph below shows Ireland's ESD emissions.

ESD emissions

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Ireland's national policy position

Ireland’s National Policy position is to reduce CO2 emissions in 2050 by 80% on 1990 levels across the Energy Generation, Built Environment and Transport sectors, with a goal of Climate neutrality in the Agriculture and Land-Use sector.

Ireland's Long-term vision of low-carbon transition is based on an aggregate reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of at least 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050 across the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors;in parallel, an approach to carbon neutrality in the agriculture and land-use sector, including forestry, which does not compromise capacity for sustainable food production.

The graph below shows the historic and projected emissions from the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors out to 2040 based on emissions projections produced in June 2019 (under the With Additional Measures Scenario). The graph also illustrates the 2050 target pathway based on the long-term vision of low-carbon transition as set out in Ireland's National Policy Position as described above. This graph demonstrates the extent of the challenge in meeting national 2050 targets and the importance of short-term reductions in emissions as the closer Ireland gets to the target year (2050) the more effort is required per annum to reach the target.

Progress to targets for Electricity, Built environment and transport sectors