Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  196 / 234 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 196 / 234 Next Page
Page Background

Ireland’s Environment – An Assessment 2016


Under the current EU Effort Sharing decision, Ireland has

a target of 20% emissions reduction relative to 2005

compared to an EU average of 10%, from activities in the

Non – Emissions Trading Sectors (Non ETS) by 2020. In

July 2016, the EU announced proposals for a new Climate

and Energy Framework to 2030 including a target of

30% emissions reduction for non-ETS in Ireland which is

exactly the same as the proposed EU average reduction,

by 2030.


The proposed 2030 targets remain challenging

for Ireland especially in the context of limited emissions

mitigation options within agriculture and projections for

growth within the sector. It is important that the most

effective available mitigation options are deployed, and

make a meaningful contribution to meeting Ireland’s

non-ETS target. The sector should also engage fully with

incentives to maintain and enhance sequestration within

the LULUCF sector (Chapter 3), especially on those lands

directly associated with agricultural production. This would

enable access to the flexible mechanisms proposed under

the new EU Climate and Energy Package and also support

the credibility of Ireland’s “Green” agri-food image.

In the Climate Action and Low-Carbon Development –

National Policy Position Ireland


paper, the Government

sets out the long term objective of “an approach to

carbon neutrality in the agriculture and land – use sector,

including forestry, which does not compromise capacity

for sustainable food production”. This is an explicit

recognition of the profound challenges in decoupling

food production from GHG emissions and the unique

potential for carbon sequestration in biomass, soils and

wood products through alternative land management and

land use. At national and EU levels, there is commitment

to improved reporting of the impact of land use with the

development and implementation of polices and measures

which demonstrate progress towards sustainable land use

and enhanced carbon stock changes. In addressing these

challenges Ireland must invest in structural and behavioural

change to enable the transition to a carbon neutral,

climate resilient environment.

Ammonia and Other Emissions to Air

and Agriculture

In Ireland agriculture accounts for nearly all ammonia

emissions to air.

Agriculture is a source of transboundary air pollutants

including ammonia and Volatile Organic Compounds.

Similar to other EU countries, the agriculture sector is

the largest source of ammonia emissions to air in Ireland

and accounted for 98% of total national emissions in

5 Factsheet on the Commission’s proposal on binding GHG emission

reductions for Member States (2021-2030) (July 2016)

6 action-and-low-carbon-development-national-policy-position

2014 (EPA, 2016a). The ammonia emission trend is

largely determined by the cattle population and showed

a steady increase to 1998. There has been some decline

in the populations of cattle and sheep since 1999, as

well as a decrease in fertiliser use, and this contributed

to a reduction in emissions between 1999 and 2011. The

ammonia emissions from the agriculture sector in 2014

were 0.9 % lower than the emission levels in 1990 and

12.4 % lower than the peak levels in 1998. Ireland has

obligations under the revised National Emissions Ceiling

Directive to achieve progressive reductions for ammonia by

2020 and 2030 of 1% and 5% based on a 2005 baseline

(see Chapter 2). Given that ammonia emissions are largely

determined by cattle numbers projected increases in the

national herd present a real challenge to achieving these


Agriculture is also a source of Non-Methane Volatile

Organic Compounds (NMVOCs) and particulate matter.

Similar to ammonia, NMVOC emissions arise in all stages

of manure management, housing, storage and land

application of manures. Livestock feeding and livestock

housing are sources of particulate matter. NMVOCs from

agriculture account for 48 % of the national inventory

total and predominantly come from manure management.

Agriculture emissions of particulate matter contribute an

estimated 14.5% of PM


and 44.7% of PM


to national

totals for these pollutants.

Biodiversity and Agriculture

Changes in agricultural practice remain one of the

threats to both habitats and species and the trend in

biodiversity loss in protected areas has not been halted.

Much of Ireland’s rich biodiversity has evolved from

agricultural land management. However, in protected

areas the recent trend in biodiversity loss has not been

halted and agriculture remains one of the main threats

to both protected habitats and species. Insufficient data

on the status of biodiversity in the other areas used for

agriculture is creating a significant challenge in addressing

the negative impacts and developing responses. Progress

in developing our understanding of biodiversity nationally

is being made via the Mapping and Assessment of

Ecosystems Services project (Chapter 4). It is, however,

clear that a robust baseline monitoring system and

comprehensive ecosystems mapping is needed nationally

to assess the overall impact of changes in agricultural

practices on biodiversity in the rural environment.

In the context of protected habitats, agriculture was

identified by the National Parks and Wildlife Service as a

high-intensity pressure or threat in over 35% of protected

habitats and as a pressure or threat in over 70% of these

habitats (NPWS, 2013). In respect of protected species,

agriculture was identified as a high-intensity pressure

or threat for 10% of these species and as a pressure or