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Agriculture accounted for almost 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2020

That’s according to new figures released in the Central Statistics Office.

FIVE SECTORS OF the economy accounted for 78% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2020.

That’s according to new figures released in the Central Statistics Office’s (CSO) Decoupling Emissions from Economic Activity 2020 report. 

Agriculture was the highest emitting sector at 38%, followed by households at 27%. 

Around 46% of greenhouse gas emissions by households was from heating, while transport accounted for a further 32% and electricity for another 20%.

The report found that electricity was the main heating fuel for 87% of homes built between 2020 and 2023, and for 20% of homes that have had a Building Energy Rating (BER) audit carried out. 

Road and other land transport accounted for between 5% and 7% of emissions in each year between 2010 and 2020.

The CSO noted that the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic can be seen in the 2020 figures as heating emissions accounted for a higher percentage of total emissions and transport emissions made up a lower percentage than in the previous 10 years. 

Manufacture of cement and other non-metallic minerals accounted for between 4% and 6% of emissions in each year between 2010 and 2020.

Food and beverages manufacturing made up 3% of emissions in each year between 2010 and 2020.

The proportion of electricity generated by renewables increased from 26% in 2015 to 36% in 2021.

Electric vehicles comprised 0.6% of licensed private cars in 2020.

“The CSO collects and receives a very broad range of data for statistical purposes,” Clare O’Hara, statistician in the CSO’s environment and climate division, said. 

“This new report combines a selection of these data to show the progress that is being made on reducing greenhouse gas emissions towards the 2030 Climate Action Plan targets,” O’Hara said.

“The release focuses on the five sectors with the highest greenhouse gas emissions and examines the economic importance of those sectors in terms of gross value added and employment.”


The CSO report today comes as yesterday reported that up to 65,000 dairy cows may have to be removed from the national herd each year for three years at a cost of €200 million if the farming sector is to meet its climate targets. 

Reacting to the report, Rural Independent Group TD Michael Collins said that if implemented, the plans “would decimate our dairy herd over the next three years, forcing farmers into accepting one-time pay-outs”. 

“This scheme is a desperate attempt to meet Ireland’s emissions targets and it is utterly appalling,” Collins said. 

He added that the Rural Independents “unequivocally condemn” the Government plans. 

“We stand united in our unwavering resolve to fight for the rights of farmers, the preservation of our agricultural heritage and the safeguarding of our rural communities,” he said. 

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