Greenhouse gas emissions from Ireland’s ETS sector increased in 2015, EPA reports

Date released: Apr 19 2016

Greenhouse gas emissions from Ireland’s ETS sector increased in 2015, EPA reports
"A stronger incentive is needed to move away from fossil fuel use" says EPA

  • Emissions of greenhouse gases from Irish companies in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme in 2015 increased by 5.5 per cent overall compared to 2014. Across the EU as a whole ETS emissions fell by approximately 0.4 per cent.
  • Emissions from the Power generation sector increased by 5.3 per cent.
  • Cement industry emissions increased by 10.8 per cent
  • Aviation emissions increased by 11 per cent.

Participants in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme based in Ireland reported 5.5 per cent more greenhouse gas emissions in 2015 than in 2014. This is compared to a fall of approximately 0.4 per cent across Europe in Emissions Trading Scheme emissions.

Emissions from the Irish power generation sector were up by 5.3 per cent with an increase of 11 per cent from the cement sector and 4.6 per cent from food and drink sector respectively. The greater use of the coal-fired plant at Moneypoint for electricity generation in 2015 (an increase of 20% in their emissions) was the main factor in the overall national increase in power generation emissions. In the aviation sector growth was 11 per cent, due to growth in business across the EEA of flights by Irish registered carriers.

Almost 100 major industrial and institutional sites in Ireland participate in the Emissions Trading Scheme. These include sites operating in the power generation, cement, lime, and oil refining sectors. Also included are large companies in sectors such as food & drink, pharmaceuticals and semi-conductors. Aviation emissions have been included in the scheme since 2012. Companies participating in the scheme are required to report their emissions to the EPA by 31 March each year.

Laura Burke, Director General, EPA said:

"The increase in emissions is disappointing and points to the fact that economic growth needs to be decoupled from emissions growth. The increased use of coal for electricity generation in Ireland contrasts sharply with the pledge in the December 2015 White Paper on Energy to reduce energy-related carbon emissions by between 80 and 95 per cent, compared with 1990 levels. We need a stronger incentive to move away from carbon intensive fuels like coal in the short term and from fossil fuel use in general in the long term. Reforming the EU ETS to give a stronger carbon price would speed up the decarbonisation needed for a carbon neutral economy."

Details of the verified emissions of greenhouse gas emissions in 2015 are available on the EU’s website.

Further details on Emissions Trading can be accessed from the EPA website and further information on Ireland’s total greenhouse gas emissions is available on the following webpage: National Emissions Inventories.

The EPA has developed a useful Infographic entitled The Simple Guide to Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Notes to Editor:

Ireland's verified ETS emissions 2005-2015:

For comparative purposes Ireland's verified ETS emissions since 2005 were as follows (keep in mind that from year to year the scope of the scheme can change somewhat as some installations close and new ones open):

Verified Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Mtonnes CO2) -Stationary Installations

Emissions 22.43  21.7 21.25 20.38 17.22  17.36  15.77 16.89   15.68 15.95 16.83


European Emissions Trading Scheme emissions: The approximate fall of 0.4 per cent across Europe in Emissions Trading Scheme emissions was estimated by Thomson Reuters.

Emissions Trading: Emissions trading is a “Cap and Trade” scheme where an EU wide limit or cap is set for participating installations. The cap is reduced over time so that total emissions fall. Within that limit “allowances” for emissions are auctioned or allocated for free (outside the power generation sector). Individual installations must report their CO2 emissions each year and surrender sufficient allowances to cover their emissions. If their available allowances are exceeded an installation must purchase allowances. If an installation has succeeded in reducing its emissions, it can sell its leftover allowances.  The system is designed to bring about reductions in emissions at least cost, and is envisaged to play an increasingly important role in assisting European industry implement the type of reductions envisaged in the EU Commission’s limit of at least an overall 20 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 2020.

The Environmental Protection Agency is the competent authority for implementation of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme in Ireland including the administering of accounts on Ireland’s domain in the Union Registry. Currently there are 98 stationary installations with open accounts and two more are due to open accounts this year. Fifteen aviation operators are also currently included in the scheme including six large Irish registered commercial airlines. In view of the anticipated ICAO agreement later this year on a Global Market Based Mechanism to address emissions from international aviation aircraft operators are only required to report and surrender in relation to emissions from flights within the EEA.