Greenhouse gas emissions projections for the period 2010 to 2020

Date released: Apr 14 2011

Projections show Ireland will comply with Kyoto Protocol, but will not meet EU 2020 target

EPA projections for the period 2010 to 2020 show: 

  • Ireland can comply with its Kyoto obligations (2008 – 2012) with regard to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • Ireland is predicted to breach its annual obligations under the EU 2020 target with regard to greenhouse gas emissions, from 2016 onwards.
  • Total emissions are projected to be 4.1 to 8.8 million tonnes of CO2e above the EU 2020 target.
  • Growth in transport emissions is projected to slow significantly.
  • Emissions from agriculture are projected to increase by 4% by 2020 (on 2009 levels) which shows the projected impact of Food Harvest 2020 and removal of EU milk quota.

The EPA today published greenhouse gas emissions projections for the period 2010 to 2020. The figures show the projected trends for greenhouse gases and give a picture of Ireland’s ability to meet EU and international targets with respect to greenhouse gas emissions. The projections have been submitted to the EU as required.  Today’s projections update the previous set of national emission projections which were published in April 2010 by the EPA.  Two scenarios are developed – one based on policies and measures already in existence or being implemented, and the other on existing measures plus all planned policies and measures which are currently known.

Commenting on the figures Dr Mary Kelly, Director General, EPA said:

“Our latest projections for greenhouse gas emissions show that Ireland will be able to meet its Kyoto Protocol commitment in 2010. However, the projected reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are a direct result of the current economic recession and economic outlook in the short term. In order to meet future targets, Ireland cannot rely on a recession and needs to transition to a low carbon economy.  It is clear from our projections that the implementation of all existing and planned measures will not be sufficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the required levels by 2020.  Now is the time to make further planned reductions to ensure Ireland does not breach its target in 2016 as projected.

The EPA will continue to update and refine GHG projections to take account of  socioeconomic, technological and policy developments, to update key assumptions and to take account of better data and better models as they become available.”

Greenhouse gas emissions projections have been produced by the EPA for both the Kyoto period, and for the period up to 2020. Projections are based on SEAI’s energy forecasts published in December 2010, which are underpinned by the ESRI’s Low Growth scenario in their Recovery Scenarios for Ireland: An Update (ESRI, 2010).  Agricultural emissions projections are based on data received from Teagasc and take into account forecast animal numbers, nitrogen fertilizer use and crop statistics.

Kyoto Protocol (2008-2012)
The projections presented here indicate that Ireland can comply with its Kyoto obligations for the 2008-2012 without any further purchase of credits. The projections show a total ‘distance to target’ for the Kyoto Protocol period of between 6.3 and 8.1 million tonnes of CO2e.  This compares to 12.7 to 15.0 million tonnes of CO2e in the April 2010 projections. The projected reduction is attributed directly to the impact of the recession on greenhouse gas emissions.
Forest sinks are included in the calculation as allowed for under the Kyoto Protocol.

EU 2020 Targets for non-ETS sector emissions
A second, and different, set of legally binding targets applies under the EU Commission’s ‘Energy and Climate Package’. Under this package, Ireland is required to deliver a 20% reduction in non-ETS greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 (relative to 2005 levels) and keep emissions below annual limits over the period 2013-2020.  These non-ETS emissions come from agriculture, transport, residential and waste activities, and exclude main industrial activities which are covered under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

Projections indicate that Ireland will breach its annual limit by 2016, in the best case scenario, and exceed its EU 2020 target by between 4.1 and 8.8 million tonnes of CO2e in 2020.

Greenhouse gas emissions and removals related to land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) are currently not accounted for in the 2020 projections as they are not included in the EU 2020 target. In Ireland, forest sinks are projected to provide a removal of 4.8 million tonnes of CO2 in 2020 (relative to 1990), which illustrates the important role that LULUCF could play in reducing emissions in Ireland.

Dr Ken Macken, Programme Manager, EPA Office of Climate, Licensing, Research and Resource Use said:

“It is important to note that detailed implementation measures for some of the plans and proposals included in the assumptions underlying the projections have not yet been developed. This highlights the importance of delivery of existing policies as well as developing new policy measures with regard to GHG emission reductions, in order to meet Ireland’s obligations under EU 2020 targets.”

Projected Sectoral trends
Transport and agriculture are projected to account for 75% of total non-ETS emissions by 2020.  This illustrates the important role that both transport and agriculture will have to play in developing mitigation options for reducing emissions in Ireland and for meeting our 2020 EU targets.

Growth in transport emissions is projected to slow significantly in comparison with historical growth rates. This is attributed to a slowdown in economic growth, which particularly impacts freight transport, and a saturation in car ownership levels as emigration increases.

Whilst agriculture is key to Ireland’s economic growth, employing 150,000 people and producing annual exports of more than €7 billion, emissions from the sector are projected to increase by 4% between 2009 and 2020, under the assumption that the Food Harvest 2020 targets will be achieved in full and EU milk quota will be removed.

The EPA Projections of greenhouse gas emissions to 2020 are available on the EPA website.

Further information: Niamh Hatchell, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours)
 
Editor’s Notes:

EPA Emission Projection Scenarios
Estimates of future emissions are inherently uncertain. Therefore, projections need to be continually updated and refined to take account of the most recent socioeconomic, technological and policy developments, to update key assumptions and to take account of better data and better models as they become available. Emissions projections for all sectors will be updated on an annual basis to ensure that all relevant developments are captured and incorporated.

The EPA has two scenarios of future greenhouse gas emissions which are described as follows:

  1. the with measures scenario is based on existing and currently implemented policies and measures.
  2. the with additional measures scenario adjusts the with measures scenario to account for all existing and currently planned policies and measures. Planned policies and measures include the renewable energy targets and energy efficiency targets as set out in the National Renewable Energy action Plan (NREAP) and the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP).

Emissions reductions under the with additional measures scenario will be realised mainly in the period 2012 to 2020.

Assumptions underlying these projections are that:

  1. all relevant policies and measures outlined in current Government policy documents will be adopted and fully implemented on time and
  2. all relevant measures will achieve the full emissions reductions anticipated.

Failure to deliver on any of these measures, or a reduction in their environmental effectiveness, will result in higher emissions levels than projected. The difficulties associated with meeting these criteria should not be underestimated.

The projections are, primarily, based on SEAI’s energy forecasts which are underpinned by the ESRI’s Recovery Scenarios for Ireland: An Update. The Low Growth scenario was used by SEAI as a basis for their energy forecasts and therefore underpins the emission projections presented here. Agriculture emissions projections are based on data from Teagasc’s FAPRI-Ireland model and assume full achievement of the Food Harvest 2020 targets.
 
Energy Forecasts Underpinning Energy-Related Emissions Projections
The greenhouse gas emission projections presented here are based on data provided by a range of other State agencies and organisations, most notably Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) for energy forecasts and Teagasc for forecast animal numbers.

Energy-related emissions projections are based on energy forecasts published by SEAI in December 2010. These energy forecasts are based on the same macro-economic assumptions that underpin the ESRI’s Low Growth scenario in their Recovery Scenarios for Ireland: An Update (ESRI, 2010) which assume average real GNP growth of -12.2% in 2009, 0.0% in 2010, increasing to, on average, 3.0% per annum between 2010 and 2015 and 2.2% between 2015 and 2020. In terms of GDP, growth rates are -7.1 % in 2009, -0.4% in 2010, 3.2% between 2010 and 2015 and 2.1% between 2015 and 2020.

Government Use of Kyoto Mechanisms or Additional Domestic Action for the Kyoto Period
To determine the Government’s use of Kyoto Mechanisms or the need for additional domestic action, the ‘allowable’ emissions from the non-ETS sectors are first calculated. This is calculated as:

Ireland’s annual averaged limit under the Kyoto Protocol (62.8 Mtonnes of CO2e) minus annual allocation to ETS sectors as set out in the second National Allocation Plan (22.3 million allowances) = 40.6 Mtonnes of CO2e attributable to non-ETS sectors.

This figure is then compared with projected emissions from non-ETS sectors (42.2 Mtonnes of CO2e under the with measures scenario or 41.8 Mtonnes of CO2e under the with additional measures scenario) to find the implications for the Government in terms of using Kyoto Mechanisms or implementing additional domestic policies and measures. The total impact over the 2008-2012 Kyoto period is then 5 times the annual average.