Key Messages

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Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Ireland decreased 4.5% in 2019. The decrease in emissions is reflected in most sectors with the exception of a slight increase in emissions in Commercial and Public Services sectors. Despite the decrease, Ireland is still not on the pathway required to meet future targets and a climate neutral economy.

Main changes in emissions since 2018 include:

 

Agriculture icon Agriculture emissions decreased by 3.9% in 2019 (0.86 Mt CO2eq). The main reasons are reductions of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser use of 10.1% and in liming of soils by 25.4%. This follows substantial increase in both fertiliser and lime use in 2018. It is worth noting that agricultural emissions in 2018 were the highest in the 30-year time series. The national dairy herd continued to increase in 2019 (9 years in a row), with higher numbers of dairy cows (+2.8%) and increased milk production of 5.3%.

 

Energy icon  

Energy industry emissions decreased by 11.2% (1.19 Mt CO2eq) in 2019. The most significant change in fuel used was a decrease in coal (as a result of reduced combustion at the Moneypoint generating station) and an increase in renewable energy. 

In 2019 electricity generated:

  • From coal – decreased by 68.9%
  • From wind energy – increased by 16.0%
  • From renewable energy – increased to 37.6% of all electricity generated in Ireland

   

Household-residential Household emissions (the residential sector) decreased by 7.3% (0.52 Mt CO2eq) in 2019. The winter of 2018 was particularly cold which led to a high demand for home heating (especially oil) during 2018. There were fewer heating days in 2019 due to a comparatively warmer period between January and April. This demonstrates the effect weather has on heating requirements and hence emissions from households. This shows the need to improve the energy efficiency of our housing stock and to increase the use of renewable energy. It is particularly important, given the increased frequency of extreme weather events.

 

Transport icon

Transport emissions decreased by 0.3% in 2019 (0.04 Mt CO2eq). A small decrease in emissions occurred despite an increase in the number of vehicles (by approximately 80,000) in 2019. This reflects an increase in efficiency which can be attributed to both new vehicles and an increase in biofuels as well as a continued decrease in petrol use in 2019.

In road transport in 2019:

  • Diesel use increased by 0.8%
  • Petrol use decreased by 5.8%
  • Biofuels use decreased by 20.2%

This downward trend in emissions from transport can be continued if people change to electric vehicles, reduce their number of car journeys and increase their use of public transport, walkways and cycleways.

 

Further findings of the EPA estimates of greenhouse gas emissions 2019

  • The EPA produced provisional estimates of greenhouse gas emissions for the period 1990-2019 which indicate that Ireland exceeded its 2019 annual limit set under the EU’s Effort Sharing Decision (ESD), 406/2009/EC by 6.98 Mt CO2eq. 
  • For 2019, total national greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to be 59.90 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2eq). This is 4.5% lower (2.80 Mt CO2eq) than emissions in 2018. 
  • In 2019, emissions in the European Union’s Emissions Trading Sector (ETS) decreased by 8.7% or 1.34 Mt CO2eq and ESD emissions decreased by 3.1% or 1.45 Mt CO2eq.
  • Agriculture and Transport sectors accounted for 72.9% of total ESD emissions in 2019. 
  • Commercial services and Public services sectors increased by 1.8% and 1.2% respectively in 2019.
  • Emissions from the Manufacturing Combustion[1] sector decreased by 0.1 Mt CO2eq or 2.0% in 2019 with the largest decreases in food processing, beverages and tobacco sub-sector where for the first time no coal was consumed. 
  • The Industrial Processes sector emissions decreased by 1.5% or 0.04 Mt CO2eq, mainly due to decreased cement production. The Mineral products sub-sector (including cement) process emissions decreased by 1.8% in 2019. 
  • Emissions from the Waste sector decreased by 0.8% or 0.01 Mt CO2eq in 2019. 
  • 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. The 2019 emissions show a large decrease in Energy Generation and emissions in the Agriculture, Transport and Residential sectors have also decreased. Emissions in the Commercial and Public Services sectors are heading in the wrong direction.

 [1] Manufacturing Combustion; includes combustion of fuels in Industry and Construction, both in ETS and ESD

 

 Ireland's projected emissions 2020-2030 


• Ireland's latest projections (published in July 2020) show total emissions decreasing from the latest 2020 levels by up to 6% by 2030 under the With Existing Measures (WEM) scenario and by 25% under the With Additional Measures (WAM) scenario. The With Existing Measures scenario assumes that no additional policies and measures beyond those already in place by the end of 2018 (latest national GHG inventory when projections were estimated), are implemented. The With Additional Measures scenario assumes implementation of the With Existing Measures scenario in addition to implementation of planned government policies and measures adopted after the end of the 2018. Importantly, this includes Ireland’s 2019 Climate Action Plan.


• Implementation of the With Additional Measures scenario (including the impact of the 2019 Climate Action Plan) is projected to save 79 Mt CO2 eq over the period 2021-2030 compared to the With Existing Measures scenario. This represents an average annual reduction of 2.9% over the period.


• Ireland is projected to meet non-ETS EU targets over the period 2021 to 2030 under the With Additional Measures scenario. This assumes full implementation of the 2019 Climate Action Plan and the use of flexibilities in relation to land use, land use change and forestry. However, Ireland’s non-ETS emissions are projected to be only 2-4% below 2005 levels in 2020, compared to the EU target of 20%.


• Full and early implementation of the 2019 Climate Action Plan is needed if the savings projected in the With Additional Measures are to materialise. The scale and pace of the changes needed are significant, requiring much greater reliance on renewables, cross-cutting measures such as an €80 per tonne of CO2 carbon tax by 2030 and further ambitious measures in sectors such as transport, agriculture and power generation.

*The Projections for 2020 -2030 in these graphs pre-date the methodological changes made to the 1990-2019 Inventory. Care should therefore be taken in comparing historic and future emissions levels.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions and projections (WEM) by sector 1990-2030*

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                                           Trends in Emissions and Projections (WAM 2020-2030) for largest sectors*

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