EPA reports decrease in Ireland's greenhouse gases in 2010

Date released: Nov 09 2011

  • Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 0.69 million tonnes (1.1%) in 2010 to 61.64 million tonnes.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions decreased in the Transport and Waste sectors and increased in other sectors: Agriculture, Energy, Industry & Commercial, and Residential.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from the Transport sector are 10.1% lower in 2010, reflecting the continued economic downturn and policies such as linking VRT and motor tax to CO2 emissions and the Biofuels Obligation Scheme.
  • Agriculture emissions are 0.2% higher in 2010. This is the first increase in the agriculture sector in seven years and results from an increase in fertiliser sales and gasoil use on farms reflecting the current strong performance of the agriculture sector in line with the ambitious targets of Food Harvest 2020.
  • Emissions from Energy (principally electricity generation) increased by 1.9% in 2010, reflecting a reduction in the share of renewables in 2010. Wind and hydro energy resources were less in 2010 which resulted in more electricity generation from coal and gas-fired power stations.
  • Based on the first three years of the Kyoto Protocol period, Ireland is on track to meet our Kyoto obligations when the impact of EU Emissions Trading Scheme and approved Forest Sinks are taken into account.

Provisional greenhouse gas emissions figures released today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) include trends since 1990, and show Ireland’s status in meeting our obligations set under the Kyoto Protocol.

Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 0.69 million tonnes (1.1%) in 2010.

Agriculture remains the single largest contributor to overall emissions, at 30.4% of the total, followed by Energy (primarily power generation) and Transport at 21.7% and 19.1%  respectively. The remainder is made up by the Industry and Commercial at 14.9%, the Residential sector at 12.6% and Waste at 1.5%.

The figures show that, while Ireland’s Kyoto limit in the period 2008-2012 is 62.84 million tonnes per annum, Ireland’s combined emissions in 2008, 2009 and 2010 were 6.65 million tonnes above this limit when the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and approved Forest Sinks are taken into account.  Taking unused allowances from the ETS into account, Ireland is on track to meet its Kyoto commitment.

Commenting on the figures Laura Burke, Director, EPA said:

“The reduction in Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions is welcome, particularly the continued reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector. Ireland is on track to meet our emission limits for 2008 - 2012 under the Kyoto Protocol. However in order to meet the very stringent EU 2020 Limits and to move permanently to a low carbon economy, new policies are required to be identified, assessed, adopted and implemented."

Speaking at the launch of the EPA report, Dr Eimear Cotter, Senior Manager, EPA said:

“Emission reductions have been recorded across Transport and Waste with all other sectors showing an increase on 2009 levels. This is despite the economy contracting in 2010 and highlights the challenge we facing in meeting our emission reduction targets. Reliable data such as the greenhouse gas figures published by the EPA today are central to informing good decision making on the challenges of climate change.”

Changes to sectoral emissions between 2009 and 2010 are as follows:

Agriculture

The emissions from agriculture increased by 0.04 million tonnes (0.2%) in 2010. This is the first increase in this sector since 2003. The increase in emissions reflects primarily a large increase in fertiliser sales as well as an increase in gasoil use on farms.  Declining trends in total cattle numbers and sheep continue in 2010 while swine numbers have increased relative to 2009.

Energy

Emissions related to energy are calculated based on SEAI’s annual energy balance and for 2010 were 0.25 million tonnes higher than in 2009 which represents a 1.9% increase. This reflects a reduction in the share of renewables in gross electricity consumption from 14.3% in 2009 to 12.9% in 2010. Wind and hydro resources were less in 2010 which resulted in more electricity generation from coal and gas-fired power stations.

Transport

Transport emissions were 1.32 million tonnes lower in 2010 than in 2009. This represents a decrease of 10.1%, following sustained increases in this sector since 1990. The decrease primarily reflects the impact of the economic downturn plus the changes in vehicle registration tax and road tax introduced in mid-2008 and the Biofuels Obligation Scheme.  Emissions in 2010 were 131% higher than the 1990 transport emissions.

Industry and Commercial

Emissions increased by 0.1 million tonnes (1.1%) in 2010. This reflects an increase in CO2 emissions from the alumina industry which is offset, to some extent, by the continuing decline in cement production. In particular, returns from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme show emissions from the cement sector peaked in 2007 and have decreased by 55% between 2007 and 2010.

Residential

Emissions in 2010 increased by 0.32 million tonnes (4.4%) from the 2009 level. This reflects an increase in fossil fuel use from households due to a considerably colder and longer heating season in 2010.

Waste

Emissions for this sector show a decrease of 0.07 million tonnes (6.9%) below the 2009 level which reflects increased methane utilisation for electricity production relative to 2009. Landfill gas utilisation and on-site flaring offset over 70% of methane production in 2010.

Download Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2010 from the EPA website.