National Greenhouse Gas Emissions respond to warmer winter and warming economy

Date released: Dec 15 2015




  • Greenhouse gas emission increases were recorded across the Industry, Transport and Waste sectors in 2014 
  • Greenhouse gas emission decreases were recorded across the Energy, Residential and Agriculture sectors in 2014
  • National recovery sees Emissions of greenhouse gases increase in the Cement Sector (+31.4%) and the Transport Sector (+2.5%).
  • Milder winter in 2014 contributes to emissions reduction in the Residential Sector (-10.4%); 
  • Agriculture and Transport accounted for 72.8% of total non-Emissions Trading Scheme emissions in 2014.
  • These figures indicate that Ireland will be in compliance with its 2014 annual limit set under the EU’s Effort Sharing Decision (Decision 406/2009/EC).

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today releases provisional greenhouse gas emissions figures today for the time period 1990 – 2014. For 2014, total national greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to be 58.2 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq) which is 0.7 % lower than emissions in 2013. This follows the 1.3% decrease in emissions reported for 2013 and shows emission reductions in 8 of the last 9 years. While the overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is welcome, the picture in individual sectors is mixed.

Over 70% of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions come from three sectors. Agriculture remains the single largest contributor to the overall emissions at 33.3% of the total. Transport and Energy are the second and third largest contributors at 19.5% and 19.1% respectively. The remainder is made up by the Industry and Commercial at 15.5%, Residential sector at 9.8% and Waste at 2.7%.

The most significant change in sectoral emissions is in the Residential sector with a 10.4% decrease in emissions mainly from decreased solid fuel consumption. The winter in 2014 was considerably milder than 2013, which contributed to this lowering of domestic fuel use.

Sectoral emissions in the Energy sector (i.e. power generation) show a decrease of 1.9%. The decrease in emissions is attributable to a reduction in electricity generation from coal (-2.9%) and natural gas (-6.0%), although peat use increased by 8.4%. There was a significant increase in electricity generated from renewables which now account for 23% of electricity generated in 2014 (up from 20% in 2013).

Agriculture emissions decreased by 1.1% in 2014.

Industry and Commercial services emissions show an increase of 2.8% in 2014 overall, however  emissions from the cement sector (process and combustion) increased by 31.4% underlining the recovery of economy in the construction industry sector.

Transport emissions increased by 2.5% in 2014. This is the second year of increases in transport emissions following 5 consecutive years of decreases since 2007. Looking at the underlying drivers, the number of passenger diesel cars increased by 11.4% in 2014 while the number of passenger petrol cars decreased by 3.6%, and commercial vehicle numbers increased by 2.8% in 2014.

The figures show that Ireland will meet its 2014 emissions targets, set by the EU, however based on current trends target limits for 2018, 2019 and 2020 remain at risk.

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

“Ireland is currently meeting its EU annual limits for Greenhouse gas emissions, however significant effort is required if we are to maintain this compliance over the next 5 years.   It is clear that economic recovery is influencing our greenhouse gas emissions, and we cannot rely on the luck of a mild winter to ensure compliance.  We must implement appropriate measures across all of society and the economy to break the link between prosperity and pollution.”

She added

“In its national policy position on Climate Change, Ireland has committed to move - via series of national plan cycles - to a low-carbon, climate resilient, and sustainable economy by 2050.  The National greenhouse gas mitigation plan currently being prepared, and those plans being produced by the key government departments (transport, energy, agriculture), will have to address this need for appropriate measures. These plans take on an added significance when considered in light of the of the recent Paris meeting of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, the outcome of which agreed implementation of  far- reaching national and global actions to tackle the causes and impacts of global warming.”

See full detail on these provisional figures in the EPA web published report Irelands Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2014.

Tables and Notes

An overview of changes in emissions since the previous year is presented in Table 1 and distance to EU targets in Table 2.

Click here to find more trend figures and tables.

Table 1. Draft greenhouse gas emissions for 2013 and 2014 for Ireland

Mtonnes, CO2eq20132014% Change
Energy 11.323 11.105 -1.9%
Residential 6.394 5.730 -10.4%
Industry and Commercial 8.798 9.042 2.8%
Agriculture 19.607 19.400 -1.1%
Transport 11.067 11.345 2.5%
Waste 1.436 1.584 10.3%
Total 58.626 58.205 -0.7%


Table 2. Compliance with EU ESD Targets 2013-2020




Total greenhouse gas

emissions without LULUCF1

58,626.3 58,205.2             ktCO2eq
B NF3 emissions 0.9 1.0             ktCO2eq

Total greenhouse gas

emissions without LULUCF and without NF3





58,204.2             ktCO2eq

Total verified emissions from

stationary installations under

Directive 2003/87/EC2

15,685.7 15,952.7             ktCO2eq

CO2 emissions from 1.A.3.A civil


10.0 9.4             ktCO2eq
F Total ESD emissions (=C-D-E) 42,929.7 42,242.2             ktCO2eq
G EU ESD Targets 46,891.9 45,760.9 44,629.9 43,498.9 42,367.9 41,236.9 40,105.9 38,974.9 ktCO2eq
  Distance to target (=F-G) -3,962.2 -3,518.8              

More background information on national inventories is available on the EPA website.


Units: 1 Mt = 1,000 kilotonnes

CO2 Equivalent: greenhouse gases other than CO2 (i.e. methane, nitrous oxide and so-called F-gases) may be converted to CO2 equivalent using their global warming potentials. 

F-gases: These gases comprise HFCs (Hydroflurocarbons), PFCs (Perfluorcarbons), SF6 (Sulphur Hexafluoride) and NF3 (Nitrogen Trifluoride).  They are much more potent than the naturally occurring greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide).

National Climate Change Strategy Sectors:  The Government Strategy to combat Climate Change uses the following six sectors for analysis:

  1. Energy (electricity generation, oil refining, briquetting manufacture)
  2. Residential (combustion for domestic heating)
  3. Industry and Commercial (combustion emissions from industrial and commercial activities, industrial process emissions, fluorinated gas emissions, solvent emissions),
  4. Agriculture (ruminant digestion, agricultural soils, manure management, gasoil used on farms)
  5. Transport (road, rail, navigation, domestic aviation, pipeline gas transport)
  6. Waste (solid waste disposal on land, solid waste treatment (composting), wastewater treatment, waste incineration & open burning at landfills)