Ireland is on track to meet its Kyoto agreement commitments

Date released: Oct 11 2012

EPA reports that, although Ireland is on track to meet its Kyoto agreement commitments, big challenges remain in delivering a low-carbon, sustainable economy for Ireland.

 

  • Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 6.7% in 2011 to 57.34 million tonnes.
  • Key emissions reductions in 2011 were as follows:

Energy emissions (principally electricity generation) decreased by 10.5%.
Residential sector emissions decreased by 15.6%.
Industry and Commercial emissions decreased by 10.7%
Transport sector emissions decreased 2.7%
Agriculture emissions decreased by 1.9%

  • Based on the first four years of the Kyoto Protocol period, Ireland is on track to meet its Kyoto obligations when the impact of EU Emissions Trading Scheme and approved Forest Sinks are taken into account.
  • Lower emissions from the energy sector reflect an increase in the share of renewables in gross electricity consumption from 12.9% in 2010 to 19.4% in 2011. Wind resources were significantly higher in 2011 than in 2010 (up 56%).
  • Emissions from the industry and commercial sector decreased by 0.96 million tonnes (10.7%) in 2011.  Returns from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme show emissions from the cement sector peaked in 2007 and have decreased by 60% between 2007 and 2011.

Provisional greenhouse gas emissions figures released today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) include trends from 1990 and show Ireland’s status in meeting our obligations set under the Kyoto Protocol. Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 4.12 million tonnes (6.7%) in 2011 to 57.34 million tonnes. 

Agriculture remains the single largest contributor to overall emissions, at 32.1% of the total, followed by Energy (primarily power generation) and Transport at 20.8% and 19.7% respectively. The remainder is made up by the Industry and Commercial at 14.0%, the Residential sector at 11.5% and Waste at 1.8%.

The figures show that Ireland’s combined emissions in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 were 1.77 million tonnes above its Kyoto 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.  However, the country faces considerable challenges in meeting EU 2020 targets and developing a low-carbon emission pathway to 2050.

Commenting on the figures Dara Lynott, Deputy Director General, EPA said:
“Ireland’s progress in meeting its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol is very welcome. However, we must not assume that recession induced reductions mean that environmental pressures are being managed in a sustainable way. Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and moving Ireland to a resource efficient and sustainable society will require an integrated approach by policy makers and behavioural change by us all.”

Speaking at the launch of the EPA report, Dr Eimear Cotter, Senior Manager, EPA said:
“Changing behavioural patterns can provide a key means to reduce emissions provided the appropriate incentives, such as taxation, regulation, investment and information, are provided. Using resources more efficiently, travelling less by car and reducing household consumption are all areas that can make a difference.”

Changes to sectoral emissions between 2010 and 2011 were as follows:

Energy
Emissions related to energy are calculated based on SEAI’s annual energy balance and were 1.40 million tonnes lower in 2011 than in 2010 which represent a 10.5% decrease. This reflects an increase in the share of renewables in gross electricity consumption from 12.9% in 2010 to 19.4% in 2011. Wind resources were significantly higher in 2011 than in 2010 (up 56%) which resulted in less electricity being generated from conventional fossil fuel fired power stations.

Residential
Emissions in 2011 decreased by 1.22 million tonnes (15.6%) compared to the 2010 level. This reflects the milder winter in 2011 with consequently lower heat demand from households.

Industry and Commercial
Emissions decreased by 0.96 million tonnes (10.7%) in 2011. This reflects a 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 60% between 2007 and 2011.

Transport
Transport emissions were 0.31 million tonnes lower in 2011 than in 2010. This represents a decrease of 2.7%. This is the fourth year in a row that a decrease in transport sector emissions has been reported following significant growth up to 2007. The decrease primarily reflects the impact of the economic downturn plus the changes in vehicle registration tax and road tax introduced in mid-2008. In addition, the Biofuels Obligation Scheme started operation in mid-2010 with biofuels displacing petrol and diesel use in the transport sector. Emissions in 2011 were 121% higher than the 1990 transport emissions.

Agriculture
Emissions from agriculture decreased by 0.35 million tonnes (1.9%) in 2011. Reductions in emissions are due to a 4.7% decrease in nitrogenous fertiliser use and a 5.9% decrease in gasoil use on farms.

Waste
Emissions for this sector show an increase of 1.06 million tonnes (12.4%) above the 2010 level which reflects a 13.3% reduction in methane flared at landfill sites in 2011.

Download Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2011 from the EPA website.


Further information: Niamh Hatchell/Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours)

Notes to editor:

Tonnes = tonnes CO2 equivalent

Greenhouse gas emissions inventory
The compilation of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions is undertaken on an annual basis by the EPA. These figures allow Ireland to meet international reporting requirements under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and provide reliable data to support the development of evidence-based climate relevant policies and measures.

EU Emissions Trading Scheme
Approximately one third of Ireland’s GHG emissions are covered by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Allocations to these installations impact on the calculation of the distance to target during the 2008 – 2012 period. For detailed calculation see Table 1 below.

Forest Sinks
Increases in approved Forest Sinks count towards achievement of our Kyoto limit and hence need to be included when estimating distance to target. In 2011 these are estimated as 3.75 million tonnes.

Biofuels Obligation Scheme

The Biofuels Obligation Scheme came into effect on 1st July 2010. Under this legislation, fuel suppliers have to ensure that at least 4 litres in every 100 litres of road transport fuel is biofuel. This is called the ‘biofuel obligation’ and equates to 4% of petroleum-based motor fuel placed on the market. The National Oil Reserves Agency (NORA) has been mandated to administer the scheme.


Table 1. Estimation of distance above Kyoto limit after first four years of Kyoto Protocol period

   Mt CO2eq  
  2008 2009 2010 2011 2008-2011
Total National Emissions 67.72 61.83 61.47 57.34 248.25
Less Verified Emissions for ETS 20.38 17.22 17.36 15.77 70.73
Total Non-ETS Emissions 47.24 44.61 44.11 41.57 177.52
           
Kyoto Limit 62.84 62.84 62.84 62.84 251.35
Less ETS Allocation 22.28* 22.28* 22.28* 22.28* 89.12
Total Non-ETS Limit 40.56 40.56 40.56 40.56 162.23
           

Distance above Kyoto limit after first

four years of Kyoto Protocol period

(excluding forest sinks)

6.68 4.05 3.55 1.01 177.52-162.23=15.29
           
Forest sinks -2.83 -3.32 -3.63 -3.75 -13.52

Distance above Kyoto limit after first

four years of Kyoto Protocol period

(including forest sinks)

3.85 0.73 -0.08 -2.73 1.77

 

* It is important to note that not all of 22.28 Mt CO2 was allocated to ETS sectors in 2008 to 2011. The remainder is mainly reserved for New Entrants over the 5 year period 2008-2012 and if not fully utilised will revert to the national account. It is currently estimated that this will amount to around 6 million tonnes of CO2 over the five year Kyoto period. The actual allocation to installations was 19.97 Mt CO2 in 2008, 20.03 Mt CO2 in 2009, 20.96 Mt CO2 in 2010 and 21.56 Mt CO2 in 2011 which compares to verified emissions of 20.38 Mt in 2008, 17.22 Mt CO2 in 2009, 17.36 Mt CO2 in 2010 and 15.77 Mt CO2 in 2011.
≠ Small numerical discrepancies in Table 1 are due to rounding.