Ireland’s power generation and industrial emissions increase by 15 percent in 2021

Date released: April 01, 2022

  • In 2021, greenhouse gas emissions from Irish power generation and industrial companies – covered by the EU Emissions Trading System – increased by 15 per cent (2 million tonnes).
  • Emissions increased by 21 per cent from the electricity generation sector, due to increased electricity demand, less wind power availability and use of older plants including a coal fired plant.
  • The overall increase in industrial emissions is about 7 per cent, with the cement industry emissions increasing by 17 per cent.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from aviation increased by 11 per cent compared to 2020, which reflects some recovery from the impact of Covid-19.

1 April 2021: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as the Competent Authority in Ireland for the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), today released its preliminary analysis of greenhouse gas emissions in 2021.

In Ireland, 105 major industrial and institutional sites were required to report their emissions for 2021 by 31 March 2022 under the Emissions Trading System. 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.

Emissions from Irish power generation and industrial companies increased by 15 per cent (2 million tonnes) in 2021. This compares with an increase of approximately 9.1 per cent across Europe, according to preliminary analysis by carbon analysts of the data released today by the EU Commission.

The increase in emissions is largely due to increased carbon intensity of Ireland’s electricity production in 2021. Several factors came together to compound this – a decrease in wind power availability, some relatively modern gas fired plants being offline and an increase in electricity demand. Older plants, including the coal-fired plant at Moneypoint, were used to ensure that power was available.

Laura Burke, EPA Director General said:

“Ireland’s Emissions Trading System sector delivered a decrease in emissions from 2017 to 2019, largely due to the higher level of renewables on the National Grid, and again in 2020 because of Covid-19. The increase we are seeing for 2021 sector is disappointing and is a reminder of the need for policies and decisions which support sustained emissions reductions in power generation and industrial emissions. The challenges faced in the power generation sector are in sharp focus at the moment. We must ensure that we are taking decisions now which recognise the urgency of the climate change challenge and that will deliver reductions in emissions”.

Aside from power generation, the increase in industrial emissions collectively is 7 per cent.

  • Cement industries recorded a 17 per cent increase overall;
  • Emissions from pharmachem industries increased by 3 per cent.

Aviation emissions from flights within the European Economic Area (reported to Ireland by 31 March) increased by 11 per cent compared to 2020, to 5.3 million tonnes. This is still much lower than the pre-pandemic levels of 12.8 million tonnes. Some restructuring of routes has taken place and the operators of the new routes may not be reporting to Ireland, but emissions data reflect that recovery of the sector was slow in 2021.

Details of the verified emissions of greenhouse gases in 2021 are available on the EU’s website. The data are not complete for all Member states. Analysis of the EU data can be found in Carbon Pulse.

Further details about Emissions Trading are available on the EPA website. Further information about Ireland's overall greenhouse gas emissions is also available on our website and the latest Greenhouse Gas Inventory Summary report is available here.

Further information: Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours) or

Notes to Editor
EU Emissions Trading System

The Environmental Protection Agency is the competent authority for implementation of the EU Emissions Trading System in Ireland, including the administering of accounts on Ireland’s domain in the Union Registry. Fifteen aviation operators currently had reporting obligations to Ireland in the system, including five large, commercial airlines.

The EU Emissions Trading System covers large energy users and electricity generators, these are known as “stationary installations”. 105 major industrial and institutional sites were required to report their emissions for 2021 to the EPA by 31 March 2022. Mobile sources in the form of large aircraft were introduced into the EU ETS for the first time in 2012. Aviation emissions reported to Ireland come mainly from flights in and out of Ireland and also flights anywhere within the European Economic Area (EEA) where the aircraft carrier has an operating licence from the Irish Aviation Authority or has been assigned to Ireland under the EU ETS.

For comparative purposes Ireland's verified EU Emissions Trading System emissions since 2008 were as follows (please note that from year to year the scope of the EU ETS can change somewhat as some installations close and new ones open):

Verified Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Mtonnes CO2) - Stationary Installations:

YEAR2008 2009201020112012201320142015201620172018201920202021
CO2 20.38  17.22 17.36 15.77 16.89 15.69 15.96 16.84 17.74 16.90 15.52 14.18 13.28 15.30