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Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions decreased slightly – EPA report

Greenhouse gas emissions figures released last week by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show that Ireland’s emissions decreased slightly in 2017.  The figures show that greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland in 2017 – at 60.75 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2eq) – were 0.9 per cent (0.53 Mt CO2eq) lower than in 2016.

Emissions decreased in the transport, power generation and household sectors, while increasing in the agriculture sector by nearly 3 per cent. The main factor underpinning lower transport emissions was a fall in cross-border fuel tourism due to currency fluctuations.  The increase in agriculture emissions was mostly due to higher dairy cow numbers. Lower household emissions reflected a warmer year in 2017 with less heating required, especially during the winter months. A significant increase in renewable energy in the power generation sector displaced carbon-intensive fuels such as coal and peat so reducing emissions in that sector.

EU countries, including Ireland, have binding annual targets to put us on the required pathway to meet EU 2020 targets.

Dr Eimear Cotter, Director of the Office of Environmental Sustainability, said: “A decrease in our greenhouse gas emissions is welcome, particularly in the context of a growing economy. However, some of the underlying drivers of this decrease point to circumstance rather than deliberate action – a fall in cross-border refuelling and warmer weather played a role this year. This would raise questions about the longevity and enduring nature of these decreases in future years.  “The figures published today indicate that Ireland will exceed its 2017 annual limit by nearly 3 million tonnes Mt CO2eq. This gives a measure of the gap between where Ireland is currently in terms of the 2020 pathway and where we need to be and indicates the scale of the challenge facing the country in terms of meeting our long-term decarbonisation ambitions.”

Stephen Treacy, Senior Manager in the Office of Environmental Sustainability said: “Ireland’s National Policy position is to have reduced CO2 emissions in 2050 by 80 per cent on 1990 levels across the energy generation, built environment and transport sectors, with a goal of climate neutrality in the agriculture and land-use sector.  “While our figures show a decrease in 2017 energy and transport emissions, underlying demand and output growth threatens Ireland’s long-term goals. With the United Nations Conference, COP 24, underway this week in Poland and focused on ensuring full implementation of the Paris Agreement, we need to also implement sustainable and enduring policies and measures here in Ireland that will move us on to the required low-carbon pathway.”

Key Trends

  • Agriculture emissions increased by 2.9% in 2017 (0.57 Mt CO2eq). The most significant drivers are higher dairy cow numbers (+3.1%) which reflects national plans to expand milk production. Dairy cow numbers have increased by 26% in the last five years, while greenhouse gas emissions from the sector increased by 10% 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 decreased by 2.4% in 2017 (0.29 Mt CO2eq) after four successive years of increases. Total road transport fuel sales decreased by 1.1% in 2017 – however, when considering cross border fuel tourism, total fuel used by Irish motorists continued to grow by 2.1%. This is driven by economic and employment growth.
  • Energy Industry emissions decreased by 6.9% (0.86 Mt CO2eq) in 2017, whereas there was an increase in demand for electricity of 1%. In 2017, decreases were observed in coal (21%) and peat (6%) use, whilst renewables (wind up 21%) increased due to more favourable weather conditions. The overall impact is that there is a 9% decrease in the emissions intensity of electricity generation (from 480 g CO2/kWh in 2016 to 437 g CO2/kWh in 2017 which is the lowest carbon intensity on record).

See full detail on these provisional figures in the EPA web-published report Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2017 here

Tables and Notes
An overview of changes in emissions since the previous year is presented in Table 1 and distance to EU targets in Table 2.

More trend figures, tables and background information is available here

Table 1. Draft* greenhouse gas emissions for 2016 and 2017 for Ireland

Mt CO2 eq 2016 2017 % Change
Agriculture 19.646 20.213 2.9%
Transport 12.301 12.009 -2.4%
Energy Industries 12.608 11.744 -6.9%
Residential 6.046 5.742 -5.0%
Manufacturing Combustion 4.526 4.665 3.1%
Industrial Processes 2.148 2.236 4.1%
F-Gases 1.192 1.232 3.4%
Commercial Services 1.005 1.072 6.7%
Waste 0.958 0.932 -2.7%
Public Servies 0.849 0.906 6.7%
Total 61.280 60.751 -0.9%

*Final figures will be submitted to the EU and UN in March and April 2019 in line with the agreed reporting timetable.

Table 2. Compliance with EU Effort Sharing Decision Targets 2014-2020 Click Here to see Table 
(Note: Shaded cells show data that has been reviewed, and compliance agreed, by the European Commission under Article 19 of the MMR No. 525/2013)

Source –

Verde Environmental Consultants provides a wide range of environmental air quality monitoring and management services, including:

  • Licence compliance monitoring.
  • Commissioning of a new plant or processes.
  • Contaminated site investigation or remediation monitoring.
  • Baseline monitoring for environmental impact assessments.
  • Industrial and community complaint or nuisance assessment.
  • Occupational exposure monitoring for vapours, dusts and aerosols.
  • Environmental and occupational management of construction projects.

We can work with you to ensure your facility is emission compliant and does not end up on the EPA National Priority Sites List.  Some of our environmental compliance services include:

  • Licence Compliance – Industrial Emissions (IE )/ Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) and Waste Licence applications and Project Management.
  • Environmental Management Systems and EHS implementation and support.
  • Emergency Pollution Response
  • Perpetration of licence application, review/amendment, site plans and reports (AER, ELRA, CRAMP & Firewater).
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  • Waste Classification and Reporting.
  • Risk Assessment, Contamination Management and Appropriate Assessment.
  • Mentoring and training.
  • Support with legislative requirements & regulatory issues, forms and guidance.
  • BAT Assessment.
  • Follow-on support to ensure permit compliance.
  • Reports according to EPA compliance requirements.
  • Troubleshooting and negotiation on your behalf with the Agency.

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