Environmental Indicators

ClimateStatus / Trend
Greenhouse Gas Emissions: By Sector amber face
Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Projections to 2020 red face
Effort Sharing Decision Targets Smiley_Red  

Greenhouse Gas Emissions By Sector


Ireland's emissions profile has changed considerably since 1990, with the contribution from transport more than doubling and the share from agriculture reducing since 1998. However, since 2011, emissions have trended upwards again with an overall peak in emissions reported in 2018. Agriculture is the largest source of emissions, representing 35 per cent of total national emissions in 2019, based on provisional estimates. Both the transport and energy industries sectors represent 20 and 16 per cent respectively, of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. The transport sector has been the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, showing a 137% per cent increase between 1990 and 2019. Further information about Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions is available on our website.

Back to top

GHG Emissions Projections to 2020

The 2020 EU Effort Sharing target commits Ireland to reducing emissions from those sectors that are not covered by the Emissions Trading Scheme (agriculture, transport, residential, commercial, non-energy intensive industry and waste) to 20 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.  Ireland breached its annual obligation target for the first time in 2016 and again in 2017 and 2018.  While there is over-achievement of annual obligations in the early years of the compliance period (2013-2020), this will not be sufficient to allow Ireland to cumulatively meet its compliance obligations.  Current policies and measures to 2020, including targets for energy efficiency in our homes and businesses and increasing renewable fuel use in transport and heating, will not be sufficient to meet 2020 emission reduction targets. 

See further detail in the EPA report Greenhouse Gas Emissions Projections 2019 to 2040.

Further information about Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions is available on our website.


Back to top

Effort Sharing Decision

Ireland’s Effort Sharing Decision (ESD) greenhouse gas emissions for 2013-2015 are in compliance with the European Union’s Effort Sharing Decision (ESD) targets. However, Ireland is not in compliance for 2016, 2017 and 2018 exceeding the annual limits by 0.30 Mt CO2 eq, 2.94 Mt CO2 eq and 5.57 Mt CO2 eq respectively. Ireland’s annual limit for 2019 is 38.73 Mt CO2eq. Ireland’s provisional 2019 greenhouse gas ESD emissions are 45.71 Mt CO2eq, 6.98 Mt CO2eq more than the annual limit for 2019.

This Decision sets 2020 targets for ESD sector emissions and annual binding limits for the period 2013-2020. Ireland’s target is to reduce ESD emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels. Further information about Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions is available on our website.

Back to top

Progress to targets

In terms of compliance with 2020 targets, Ireland’s non-Emissions Trading Scheme (non-ETS) emissions are projected to be 2% and 4% below 2005 levels in 2020 under the With Existing Measures and With Additional Measures scenarios, respectively (based on the latest emissions projections published in July 2020).  This compares to the target of 20% below 2005 levels by 2020.


In terms of 2030 reduction targets the EU Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) requires that Ireland reduce its non-ETS emissions by 30% on 2005 levels by 2030. The Effort Sharing Regulation maintains existing flexibilities under the current Effort Sharing Decision (e.g. banking, borrowing, buying and selling between Member States). It also provides for two additional flexibilities – use of ETS allowances and credit from action undertaken in the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector.

Under the With Existing Measures scenario, the projections indicate that Ireland will exceed the carbon budget of 378.3 Mt CO2 eq by 50.8 Mt CO2 eq over the 2021-2030 period assuming the Land-use, Land-use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) flexibility only is fully utilised. If the ETS flexibility is also used the exceedance will reduce to 32 Mt CO2 eq.
Under the With Additional Measures scenario, the projections indicate that Ireland will have a surplus of approximately 8.9 Mt CO2 eq over the 2021-2030 period assuming the LULUCF flexibility only as set out in the Effort Sharing Regulation is fully utilised. If the ETS flexibility is also used the surplus would increase to 27.8 Mt CO2 eq.

The Greenhouse gas emissions: Projections to 2020 graph above shows Ireland's ESD emissions and targets.

Ireland's national policy position

Ireland’s National Policy position is to reduce CO2 emissions in 2050 by 80% on 1990 levels across the Energy Generation, Built Environment and Transport sectors, with a goal of Climate neutrality in the Agriculture and Land-Use sector.

Ireland's Long-term vision of low-carbon transition is based on an aggregate reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of at least 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050 across the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors;in parallel, an approach to carbon neutrality in the agriculture and land-use sector, including forestry, which does not compromise capacity for sustainable food production.

The graph below shows the historic and projected emissions from the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors out to 2040 based on emissions projections produced in July 2020 (under the With Additional Measures Scenario). The graph also illustrates the 2050 target pathway based on the long-term vision of low-carbon transition as set out in Ireland's National Policy Position as described above. This graph demonstrates the extent of the challenge in meeting national 2050 targets and the importance of short-term reductions in emissions as the closer Ireland gets to the target year (2050) the more effort is required per annum to reach the target.

Progress to targets for Electricity, Built environment and transport sectors