The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its provisional figures for greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland in 2019. The figures indicate that that the country’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 4.5% compared to 2018, the largest fall since 2011. However, they also indicate that Ireland is highly unlikely to meet its overall EU targets by the end of 2020.

The most significant emissions reductions were recorded in the energy production, agricultural and residential sectors, while a modest reduction was recorded in the transport sector. These reductions have occurred despite a 1.7% growth in the domestic economy during 2019.

Despite the emissions reductions in 2019, the EPA have said Ireland will still exceed its annual EU emissions allocation for the year which, unfortunately, makes it very unlikely that we will meet our overall 2020 targets:

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

including:

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% 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 combination of measures such as more cycling and walking as well as new technologies such as electric vehicles and biofuels.

The EPA’s full report is available here: http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/air/airemissions/ghgprovemissions2019/