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Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 4.5% in 2019 - the largest reduction since 2011

But the figures also indicate that Ireland is highly unlikely to meet its overall EU targets by the end of this year.

Image: Shutterstock/thodonal88

THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION Agency (EPA) has published its provisional
greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland for 2019.

The figures show a reduction of 4.5% compared to 2018, which is the largest decrease since 2011.

Significant emission reductions are recorded for the energy industries, agriculture and residential sectors. These decreases come despite modest growth in the domestic economy of 1.7% over the year in question.

However, the figures indicate that Ireland will exceed its 2019 annual EU emissions allocation by 6.98 metric tonnes, which makes it highly unlikely that Ireland will meet its overall 2020 targets, even taking the impact of Covid 19 on emissions in 2020 into account.

Commenting on the figures, director general of the EPA Laura Burke said: “This much needed reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is a welcome step in the right direction.

The figures show that emissions reductions can be achieved and in 2019 there have been reductions in power generation, agriculture and residential sectors.

Trends Source: EPA report

The emission reductions have been driven by a number of factors across the sectors

  • Energy Industries: Emissions in the energy industries sector showed a decrease of 11.2% in 2019, which is attributable to a 69% decrease in coal and an 8% decrease in peat used in electricity generation. Electricity generated from wind increased by 16% in 2019, with renewables accounting for 37.6% of electricity generated. After 2020, a continued increase in renewable generation levels will be required to meet ambitious future greenhouse gas targets.
  • Agriculture: Agriculture emissions decreased by 3.9% in 2019. This was driven by reduced fertiliser use (down 10.1%) and a reduction in the quantity of lime used on soils (down 25.4%), which had both increased substantially the previous year. Other key drivers of emissions in agriculture, such as the number of dairy cows, continued to rise.
  • Residential: Emissions in the residential sector decreased by 7.3% (0.52 metric tonnes of CO 2 eq) in 2019 with the warmer winter resulting in decreased use of fuels. However, emissions per household have plateaued in recent years which indicates a need to step up energy efficiency retrofit activity to achieve future emission reduction commitments.
  • Transport: Greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector decreased slightly, by 0.3% in 2019. An increased demand for transport largely offset more biofuel use which was up 21.9% in 2019. Reducing transport emissions requires a blend of measures such as more cycling and walking as well as new technologies such as electric vehicles and biofuels.

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EPA Source: EPA

Stephen Treacy, senior manager at the EPA, said: “Focusing on climate action as part of a ‘green’ recovery offers the opportunity to respond to climate change while rebuilding our economy and generating new jobs.”

These 2019 figures illustrate where our economy and emissions were heading before the Covid-19 pandemic. While 2020 is likely to see a reduction in emissions caused by the impact of the pandemic, this does not negate the need for long term and sustained action. 

The full detail on the Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory 1990 to 2019 is available on the EPA website and the EPA Greenhouse Gas web resource is also available online.

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