Date released: June 04, 2020
This latest information shows that ammonia emissions have increased each year from 2016 to 2018. Agriculture dominates emissions of ammonia (99%), which arise from animal manures and nitrogen fertiliser. While the rate of increase has slowed over these years, Ireland is non-compliant with binding EU limits for ammonia over the period.
Emissions of nitrogen oxides - primarily from transport and diesel fuelled vehicles in particular - decreased slightly in 2018, while still being above its 2010-2019 emission limit.
Emissions of non-methane volatile organic compounds decreased slightly in 2018. These mostly arise from spirit production in the food and beverage industry, animal manures and fertilisers.
There was a small increase in emissions of particulate matter, while emissions of sulphur dioxide continued on a downward trend.
Dr Eimear Cotter, Director of Office of Environmental Sustainability said:
“Emissions of all air pollutants need to reduce to protect air quality and health. These figures show different trends in emissions of air pollutants with ammonia emissions increasing and releases of other pollutants remaining relatively unchanged or decreasing. Ammonia emissions need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The underlying drivers are the use of animal manure and nitrogen fertilisers which can be reduced through widespread adoption of on-farm measures.”
Lower EU limits will come into effect in 2030. Sulphur dioxide, particulate matter and NOx emissions are projected to reduce and to be compliant, provided planned measures – particularly in relation to the Climate Action Plan - are implemented. This depends on switching to cleaner fuels, technology improvements and a significant uptake of electric vehicles.
While full implementation of the 2019 Climate Action Plan can deliver a double benefit in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants, even further measures are required to reduce NH3 and NMVOC emissions to meet future tight limits in 2030.
Stephen Treacy, EPA Senior Manager said:
“The National Clean Air Strategy, which is currently under preparation, will need to propose measures to reduce air pollutant emissions, particularly where non-compliance with the 2030 limits is projected.
The transport sector continues to be a significant source of nitrogen oxide emissions as a result of growth in the fleet of cars, vans and trucks. It is important that planned measures are implemented to reduce these emissions and decouple them from economic growth, particularly as we exit current COVID-19 related travel restrictions.”
These figures do not include the impact of COVID-19. It expected that the drop off in economic activity and travel will translate into reductions in some air pollutants, particularly nitrogen oxides, which will be evident in projections to 2030 published next year.
For further detail on these figures, see the EPA web published report Ireland’s Air Pollutant Emissions 1990-2030.
Notes to Editor
UNECE Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution
The LRTAP Convention of 1979 was the first international treaty to deal with air pollution on a broad regional basis. The 32 signatories to the Convention agreed the principles of international cooperation for air pollution abatement. The number of substances covered by the Convention and its protocols has been gradually extended over time, notably to include ground-level ozone, persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals and particulate matter. Although Ireland hasn’t yet ratified the Gothenburg Protocol setting out national commitments to abate acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone, the European Union has, and binding national emission ceilings for Ireland are specified in the EU transposition of the Protocol, the National Emissions Ceiling Directive.
National Emissions Ceiling Directive
Directive (EU) 2016/2284 (replacing 2001/81/EC) ‘on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants’ sets national emission reduction commitments for Member States and the EU for five important air pollutants: nitrogen oxides, non-methane volatile organic compounds, sulphur dioxide, ammonia and fine particulate matter. The new NEC Directive, which entered into force in December 2016, sets 2020 and 2030 emission reduction commitments for five main air pollutants. It also ensures that the emission ceilings for 2010 set in the earlier directive remain applicable for Member States until the end of 2019.
Five main air pollutants
Further information: Niamh Hatchell/ Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours) or firstname.lastname@example.org