The EPA has produced provisional estimates of greenhouse gas emissions for the time period 1990-2016

  • Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions increased by 3.5 % (2.06 Mt CO2 eq) in 2016 with significant increases observed across all the main sectors including:
    • Agriculture emissions increased by 2.7%
    • Transport emissions have increased by 3.7%
    • Energy Industry emissions increased by 6.1%
  • The overall emissions trends are increasing, making achievement of Ireland’s long-term decarbonisation goals ever more difficult.
  • Tackling this growth is a challenge in the context of a growing economy but one which must be addressed by households, business, farmers and communities if Ireland is to reap the benefits of a low-carbon economy.

The Environmental Protection Agency figures released today show that Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased significantly in 2016, following a substantial increase in 2015. Today’s figures show that total national greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to be 61.19 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq) in 2016. This is 3.5 per cent (2.06 Mt CO2 eq) higher than emissions in 2015 and returns greenhouse gas emissions to 2009 levels. National emissions have now increased by over seven per cent in just two years, indicating that we have not managed to decouple emissions from economic growth.

Dr. Eimear Cotter, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Sustainability, said: “Achieving Ireland’s long-term decarbonisation objective can only take place with a transformation of our energy, agriculture and transport systems. We need to adopt a much greater sense of urgency about reducing our dependence on fossil fuels while radically improving energy efficiency. In relation to agriculture, Ireland must optimise
agricultural production to ensure long term environmental integrity and sustainability. The growth in this sector, particularly for dairy and other cattle, points to very significant risks in relation to meeting our decarbonisation objectives.”

Key Trends

  • Agriculture emissions increased by 2.7 per cent in 2016 (0.52 MtCO2eq). The most significant drivers are higher dairy cow numbers (+6.2%) which reflects national plans to expand milk production. Dairy cow numbers have increased by 22 per cent in the last four years while greenhouse gas emissions increased by 8 per cent over that time. This shows that agricultural production has gained some efficiency over this period but that we have some way to go before full decoupling.
  • Transport emissions have increased by 3.7 per cent in 2016 (0.44 MtCO2eq) and 13 per cent in the last four years. This is driven by economic and employment growth and shows no sign of abatement in the short term. The increased use of diesel more than offset a decline in gasoline and biofuel use in 2016.
  • Energy Industry emissions increased by 6.1 per cent (0.72 MtCO2eq) in 2016. This is underpinned by an increase in demand for electricity and more electricity generation from gas. In 2016, decreases were observed in coal and peat use and also renewables due to less favourable weather conditions. The overall impact is that there is an increase in the emissions intensity of electricity generation for the second year in a row (from 465 g CO2/kWh in 2015 to 483 g CO2/kWh in 2016).

Concluding, Stephen Treacy, Senior Manager in the EPA’s Office of Environmental Sustainability said: “These figures confirm that greenhouse gas emissions keep step with economic growth unless appropriate interventions are designed and implemented. The National Mitigation Plan outlines what is needed to move Ireland to a low carbon economy. What we need now is to back this up with investment and action particularly across the highest emitting sectors, agriculture, transport and energy.”

See full detail on these provisional figures in the EPA web published report Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2016.

Source: EPA