EPA reports significant decrease in Ireland's Greenhouse Gases in 2009

Date released: Oct 22 2010

  • Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas emissions fell by 5.4 million tonnes (7.9%) in 2009 to 62.32 million tonnes.
  • Greenhouse Gas emissions decreased across all sectors in 2009 due to the effects of the economic downturn.
  • Emissions reductions were mainly evident in the following sectors:
  • 2.3 million tonne reduction (20.0%) in the Industry and Commercial sector;
  • 1.6 million tonne reduction (10.7%) in the Energy sector (primarily power generation) and
  • 1.1 million tonne reduction (7.7%) reduction in the Transport sector.
  • In particular, emissions from the cement sector alone decreased by 1.3 million tonnes (38%).
  • While the actual situation in regard to compliance with the Kyoto Protocol will not be known until after the 5 year (2008-2012) period is over, we can estimate that after the first two years we are currently a total of 6.2 million tonnes above target when the impact of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and approved Forest Sinks are taken into account.

Provisional Greenhouse Gas emissions figures released today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) include trends since 1990, and show Ireland’s status in meeting our obligations set under the Kyoto Protocol. Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas emissions fell by 5.4 million tonnes (7.9%) in 2009.

Agriculture remains the single largest contributor to the overall emissions, at 29.1% of the total, followed by Energy (primarily power generation) and Transport both at 21.1% share. The remainder is made up by the Industry and Commercial at 14.8%, the Residential sector at 12.0% and Waste at 1.9%.

The figures show that, while Ireland’s Kyoto limit in the period 2008-2012 is 62.84 million tonnes per annum, Ireland’s combined emissions in 2008 and 2009 were 6.2 million tonnes above this limit when account is taken of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and of approved Forest Sinks. 

Commenting on the figures Dr Mary Kelly, Director General, EPA said:

“The magnitude of the reduction in Ireland’s annual Greenhouse Gas emissions in 2009 is unprecedented. In particular the 20% cut in emissions from the Industry and Commercial Sector reflects the impact which the severe economic recession is having on industrial output in Ireland.
“While the reduction is welcome in terms of meeting our emission limits for 2008 - 2012 under the Kyoto Protocol, we need to use this opportunity to embed fundamental emission reductions in the economy in order to meet the very stringent EU 2020 limits which we face and to move permanently to a low carbon economy. We should not rely on a recession to meet our targets for the future.”

Speaking at the launch of the EPA report, Dr. Ken Macken, Programme Manager, EPA said:

“For the first time in the twenty years for which Greenhouse Gas emissions have been published, this year EPA is reporting reductions in every sector across the board. While some of these reflect the impact of the many improvements which have already been taken to reduce our emissions, it is important to ensure further measures are taken in order to meet our emission limits for 2020 and beyond.”

The provisional summary report of Ireland's Greenhouse Gas Emissions for 2009 can be downloaded from the EPA Website.

Changes to sectoral emissions between 2008 and 2009 are as follows:


Emissions in 2009 were 1.6 million tonnes lower than in 2008 which represents a 10.7 % decrease. This reflects a reduced demand for electricity from end-users in Ireland. In addition, the contribution of renewables such as wind in electricity consumption increased to 14.1% in 2009 from 11.7% in 2008. Carbon-intensive fuels in power generation decreased in 2009 relative to 2008.


Transport emissions were 1.1 million tonnes lower in 2009 than in 2008. This represents a decrease of 7.7 %, following sustained increases in this sector since 1990. The decrease primarily reflects the impact of the economic downturn plus the changes in vehicle registration tax and road tax introduced in mid 2008.  Emissions in 2009 were 156 % higher than the 1990 transport emissions.


The emissions from agriculture decreased by 0.3 million tonnes (1.5 %) in 2009, continuing the downward trend from the 1998 peak. The decline in emissions primarily reflects lower sheep and swine numbers as well as a reduction in gasoil use on farms.


Emissions in 2009 decreased by 699,111 tonnes (0.9%) from the 2008 level. This reflects a slight reduced demand for energy from the residential sector despite 2009 being similar weatherwise to 2008.


Emissions for this sector show a decrease of 52,754 tonnes (4.2%) below the 2008 level which reflects increased methane flaring relative to 2008. Emissions in 2009 are 7.8 % lower than in 1990. The EPA continues to take account of data received from operators on the proportion of methane that is flared and utilised and therefore excluded from emissions reported under the waste sector.

Further information and Editors notes available on request.