Greenhouse gas emissions from Irish companies in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme increased in 2016, EPA reports

Date released: Apr 07 2017

Greenhouse gas emissions from Irish companies in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme increased in 2016, EPA reports

“We need a stronger incentive to move away from fossil fuel use” says EPA

  • Emissions of greenhouse gases from Irish companies in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme in 2016 increased by 5.4 per cent overall compared to 2015. 
  • Emissions from the Power generation sector increased by 6.6 per cent.
  • Cement industry emissions increased by 6.8 per cent.
  • Aviation emissions increased by 23 per cent.

Participants in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme based in Ireland reported 5.4 per cent more greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 than in 2015. This is compared to a decline of approximately 2.7 per cent across Europe in Emissions Trading Scheme emissions. Emissions from Irish power generation sector were up by 6.6 per cent with an increase of 6.8 per cent from the cement sector and 5.6 per cent from food and drink sector respectively. In the aviation sector emissions growth was 23 per cent- although this was mainly due to increased traffic there were also some changes in the attribution of flights to Ireland previously reported to another country in the scheme.

In Ireland, 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.

Dr Tom Ryan, EPA Programme Manager, said:

 “Greenhouse Gas emissions from the Emissions Trading sector have been increasing each year since 2013 and in 2016 were the highest in eight years. The increase in emissions is a disappointing indicator that the price of carbon remains too low for the trading system to have the desired impact on emissions in Ireland.
“In addition, Ireland has a national policy position that commits us to reducing our carbon emissions by at least 80 per cent compared to 1990 levels by 2050 across the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors while achieving carbon neutrality in the agriculture and land use sectors.
“In order to deliver on our national policy position we must break our dependence on fossil energy infrastructures. This will take planning, investment and time but can be achieved in the overall framework of national, EU and global commitments.”

Details of the verified greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 are available on the EU’s website.

 Further details on Emissions Trading  can be accessed from the EPA website and along with further information on Ireland’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
The EPA has developed a useful Infographic entitled The Simple Guide to Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Notes to Editor:

For comparative purposes Ireland's verified  EU Emissions Trading Scheme 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

Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Emissions 22.43 21.7 21.25 20.38 17.22 17.36 15.77 16.89 15.68 15.95 16.83 17.73


European emissions figures: The decline of approximately 2.7 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 in comparison to 2015 across Europe in Emissions Trading Scheme emissions is an estimate by Thomson Reuters based on preliminary analysis of EEA wide data.

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 100 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 much-anticipated International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) agreement last year on a global Market Based Mechanism to address emissions from international aviation, aircraft operators were only required to report and surrender in relation to emissions from flights within the EEA for 2016. An EU Commission proposal to continue this reduced coverage until there will be sufficient clarity about the nature and content of the legal instruments adopted by ICAO for the implementation of the global Market Based Mechanism is currently being debated in the European Parliament and the EU Council.
 ICAO Assembly Resolution A39-3 decides to implement a global Market Based Mechanism in the form of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) to address any annual increase in total CO2 emissions from international civil aviation (i.e. civil aviation flights that depart in one country and arrive in a different country) above 2020 levels, taking into account special circumstances and respective capabilities.