EPA publishes final 2010 figures for Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions

Date released: Mar 28 2012

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today released final Greenhouse gas emissions figures for 2010, following input data from a range of State Agencies including Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and CSO.  Today’s figures update provisional figures released last November and provide Ireland’s status in meeting its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.  They also include trends since 1990 and have been submitted to the EU on March 15th as required under EU Decision 280/2004.

The figures show that Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 0.43 million tonnes (0.7%) in 2010 to 61.31 million tonnes. They also show that Agriculture remains the single largest contributor to overall emissions, at 30.5% of the total, followed by Energy (primarily power generation) and Transport at 21.8% and 18.9% respectively. The remainder is made up by the Industry and Commercial sector at 14.6%, the Residential sector at 12.7% and Waste at 1.4%.

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, 2009 and 2010 were 5.48 million tonnes above this limit.  Taking unused allowances from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) into account or the use of credits already purchased by the State, Ireland is on track to meet its Kyoto commitment. 

Changes to sectoral emissions between 2009 and 2010 are as follows.  The differences between the provisional and final figures are shown in a Table 1 below.

Emissions related to energy (principally electricity generation) are calculated based on SEAI’s annual energy balance and for 2010 were 0.25 million tonnes higher than in 2009 which represents a 1.9% increase. This reflects a reduction in the share of renewables in gross electricity consumption from 14.3% in 2009 to 12.9% in 2010. Wind and hydro resources were less in 2010 which resulted in more electricity generation from coal and gas-fired power stations.

Transport emissions were 0.92 million tonnes lower in 2010 than in 2009. This represents a decrease of 7.3%, 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 and the Biofuels Obligation Scheme.  Emissions in 2010 were 127% higher than the 1990 transport emissions.

The emissions from agriculture decreased by 0.05 million tonnes (0.3%) in 2010. 2010 saw a substantial increase in nitrous oxide emissions due to increased fertiliser sales (up 18% on 2009). This increase in nitrous oxide emissions was offset by the continuing decline in total cattle and sheep numbers in 2010 while swine numbers have increased relative to 2009 levels.

Industry and Commercial
Emissions decreased by 0.08 million tonnes (0.8%) in 2010. There was a substantial increase in CO2 from, primarily, the alumina industry in 2010 which was offset by the continuing decline in the production of cement. In particular, returns from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme show emissions from the cement sector peaked in 2007 and have decreased by 55% between 2007 and 2010.

Emissions in 2010 increased by 0.40 million tonnes (5.3%) from the 2009 level. This reflects an increase in fossil fuel use from households due to a considerably colder and longer heating season in 2010.

Emissions for this sector show a decrease of 0.03 million tonnes (2.9%) below the 2009 level which reflects increased methane utilisation for electricity production relative to 2009. Landfill gas utilisation and on-site flaring offset over 70% of methane production in 2010.

Table 1. Difference between provisional and finalised greenhouse gas emission figures for 2010

mtonnes C02eq  Provisional figures released in November 2011   Finalised figures submitted to EU on 15th March 2012
 Energy  13.36  13.36
 Transport  11.76  11.61
 Agriculture  18.71  18.68
 Industry and Commercial  9.17  8.97
 Residential  7.75  7.82
 Waste  0.89  0.89
 Total  61.64  61.31

Download Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2010 

Editor’s notes:

Tonnes = tonnes CO2 equivalent

EU Emissions Trading Scheme
Approximately one third of Ireland’s GHG emissions are covered by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Allocations to these installations impact on the calculation of the distance to target during the 2008 – 2012 period. For detailed calculation see Table 1 below.

Forest Sinks
Increases in approved Forest Sinks count towards achievement of our Kyoto limit and hence need to be included when estimating distance to target. In 2010 these are 3.01 million tonnes.

Biofuels Obligation Scheme
The Biofuels Obligation Scheme came into effect on 1st July 2010. Under this legislation, fuel suppliers have to ensure that at least 4 litres in every 100 litres of road transport fuel is biofuel. This is called the ‘biofuel obligation’ and equates to 4% of petroleum-based motor fuel placed on the market. The National Oil Reserves Agency (NORA) has been mandated to administer the scheme.

Table 2. Estimation of distance above Kyoto limit after first three years of Kyoto Protocol period

   Mt CO2eq    
  2008   2009   2010 2008-2010
Total National Emissions   67.57  61.74 61.31   190.62
 Less verified emissions for ETS  20.38  17.22 17.36   54.96
 Total non-ETS emissions  47.19  44.52 43.95   135.66
 Kyoto Limit  62.84  62.84 62.84   188.51≠
 Less ETS allocation  22.28*  22.28* 22.28*   66.84
 Total non-ETS limit  40.56  40.56 40.56   121.67≠

Distance above Kyoto limit after first three years of

Kyoto Protocol period (excluding forest sinks)

 6.63 3.96 3.40≠


Forest sinks   -2.68 -2.82 -3.01   -8.51
 Distance above Kyoto limit after first three years of Kyoto Protocol period (including forest sinks)  3.95≠    1.14 0.39 5.48

* It is important to note that not all of 22.28 Mt CO2 was allocated to ETS sectors in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The remainder is mainly reserved for New Entrants over the 5 year period 2008-2012 and if not fully utilised will revert to the national account. It is currently estimated that this will amount to around 6 million tonnes of CO2 over the five year Kyoto period. The actual allocation to installations was 19.97 Mt CO2 in 2008, 20.03 Mt CO2 in 2009 and 20.96 Mt CO2 in 2010, which compares to verified emissions of 20.38 Mt in 2008, 17.22 Mt CO2 in 2009 and 17.36 Mt CO2 in 2010.
≠ Small numerical discrepancies in Table 1 are due to rounding.