Ireland’s 2022 Greenhouse Gas Emissions show a welcome decrease, but much work remains to be done

Date released: July 13, 2023

  • Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 1.9 per cent (1.19 Mt CO2eq) in 2022 driven by higher fuel prices, increased renewable energy, behavioural change and regulation.
  • Power generation emissions decreased by 1.9 per cent due to a reduction in coal, oil and peat use and more renewable energy.
  • Agriculture emissions decreased by 1.2 per cent driven by reduced fertiliser use which offset the impact of an increase in livestock numbers.
  • Residential emissions decreased by 12.7 per cent with the impact of higher fuel prices, new regulations that ban the use of smoky fuel and milder weather evident.
  • Transport emissions increased by 6 per cent in 2022 as the COVID rebound continues. 

14th July 2023: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published its provisional greenhouse gas emissions for Ireland for 2022. The figures show a reduction of 1.9 per cent compared to 2021, with emission reductions in all key sectors except Transport. 

In total, 60.76 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2eq) were emitted excluding emissions from Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF). 

The report highlights that 47 per cent of Ireland’s Carbon Budget for 2021-2025 has been used in the first 2 years. An extremely challenging annual reduction of 12.4 per cent is required for each of the remaining years if Ireland is to stay within the Budget. 

The figures also show that Ireland exceeded its 2022 annual limit under the European Union’s Effort Sharing Regulation(EU 2018/842). These annual limits have been reduced further from 2023 onwards as Ireland’s Effort Sharing commitment increased from a 30 per cent reduction on the 2005 level by 2030 to a 42 per cent reduction.

Commenting on the figures Laura Burke, Director General, EPA said: 

“An overall emissions reduction is welcome, and it is encouraging to see the impact of action across key economic sectors. Drivers for this reduction were higher fossil fuel prices and associated behavioural change, more renewable energy, and the impact of regulation such as the nationwide ban on smoky fuels in home heating.

She added

“While welcome, this decrease in emissions needs to be significantly ramped up. We need faster progress on the actions set out in national climate action plans to decarbonise and transform all sectors of Ireland’s economy, to stay within National Carbon Budgets and reduce our Greenhouse Gas emissions by 51 per cent by 2030.” 

A summary of the trends from key sectors:

Energy Industries: Emissions decreased by 1.8 per cent despite a 2.1 per cent increase in overall electricity demand. The reductions were driven by reductions in coal, oil and peat used in electricity generation (-16.1, -29.1 and -24.8 per cent respectively). These reductions, however, were largely offset by the highest gas usage since 2010 (up 12.6 per cent compared to 2021). The emissions intensity of electricity generation declined to 331g CO2/kWh in 2022 (from 348g CO2/kWh in 2021) due to increased renewable energy, but remained above 2020 levels.  

Agriculture: Emissions overall decreased by 1.2 per cent or 0.29 Mt CO2eq in 2022.  A welcome decrease of 14 per cent in nitrogen fertiliser use, to 343,000 tonnes, made significant progress towards the 330,000 tonne target for 2025 in the Climate Action Plan and resulted in 0.44 Mt CO2eq less emissions from agriculture. These reductions offset the impact of higher dairy cow numbers which increased for the 12th successive year. Total milk production increased by 0.7 per cent in 2022, with milk output per cow decreasing slightly (-0.2 per cent).

Residential: Emissions decreased significantly by 12.7 per cent to 6.1 Mt CO2 eq. The main drivers for the decrease included a large rise in fossil fuel prices, warmer weather and new nationwide solid fuel regulations that ban the use of smoky fuel in home heating. 

Transport: Emissions increased by 6 per cent (to 11.63 Mt CO2 eq), following a similar increase in 2021.  Overall higher transport activity – both private cars and freight transport - is eroding the impact of electric vehicles. In 2022, there were 72,000 battery electric (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric (PHEVs) which is approximately 37 per cent of the Climate Action Plan target for 2025. Emissions in this sector in 2022 were 4.6 per cent below the pre-pandemic level seen in 2019. 

Land-Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULULCF): This sector accounted for 10.7 per cent of the total emissions in 2022 (including LULUCF) and decreased by 0.5 per cent. The main source of emissions is from grasslands on organic soils that have been drained for agricultural production. Net grassland emissions were 6.8 Mt CO2 eq in 2022 while Forest land became a net source in 2022 (0.4 Mt CO2 eq) as more trees reached harvesting age.

Commenting, Mary Frances Rochford, Programme Manager, EPA said:

“Current decarbonisation actions are being outpaced by increased energy demand across the economy and dependence on fossil fuels for energy generation. A significant increase in Transport emissions in 2022 highlights the fact that a growing economy, with high employment, will continue to produce emissions if we do not break the link and decouple emissions from increased activity by using cleaner and alternatives sources of energy.” 

The Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory 1990 to 2022 is available on the EPA website and the EPA Greenhouse Gas web resource is also available online

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

Notes to Editor

Provisional national total emissions (including LULUCF) were 68.07 Mt CO2 eq in 2022, 2.7 per cent below 2018 reference year for Ireland’s national climate objective.

This publication provides early insight into the annual greenhouse gas emissions in advance of final data being submitted to the EU and UN in 2024. The report will facilitate the monitoring and reporting processes associated with the National Climate Objective and associated Carbon budgets, annual review of the Climate Action Plan and greater level of sectoral reporting. 

2022 is the second year over which compliance with targets set in the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) will be assessed. This Regulation sets 2030 targets for emissions outside of the Emissions Trading Scheme (known as ESR emissions) and annual binding national limits for the period 2021-2030. Ireland’s target is to reduce ESR emissions by 42 per cent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels, with a number of flexibilities available to assist in achieving this.

An overview of changes in emissions since the previous year is presented in Table 1 and distance to EU targets in Table 2. 
More trend figures, tables and background information are available in the published report.

Table 1. Provisional greenhouse gas emissions for 2021 and 2022 for Ireland*
Million tonnes CO2 eq 2021 2022 % change 2021-2022
Agriculture 23.626 23.337 -2.1
Transport 10.978 11.634 6.0
Energy Industries 10.262 10.076 -1.8
Residential 6.992 6.105 -12.7
Manufacturing Combustion 4.614 4.288 -7.1
Industrial Processes 2.475 2.289 -7.5
F-Gases 0.745 0.741 -0.5
Commercial Services 0.765 0.767 0.2
Public Services 0.672 0.659 -1.9
Waste 0.726 0.867 4.9
LULUFC 7.338 7.305 -0.5
National total excluding LULUFC 61.955 60.764 -1.9
National total including LULUFC 62.293 68.069 -1.8
* Final figures will be submitted to the EU and UN in March and April 2024 in line with the agreed reporting timetable.
Table 2. Compliance with EU Effort Sharing Regulation Targets 2021-2025#
  2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
Total greenhouse gas emissions without LULUCF 61,955 60,764      
- Total verified emissions from stationary installations under Directive 2003/87/EC 15,320 14,665      
- CO2 emissions from domestic aviation 19 18      
Total ESR emissions 46,615 46,081      
EU ESR Targets† 43,479 42,357 40,520 38,683 36,845
Gross distance to target -3,136 -3,723      
+ annualised ETS flexibility† 1,908 1,908 1,908 1,908 1,908
+ annualised projected LULUCF flexibility* 822 822 822 822 822
Net distance to target -406 -993      

* Flexibility projected to be available under the EPA's "With Existing Measures" scenario

† Set out in Annex II and Annex III of Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2020/2126

† Set out in Annex II and Annex III of Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2020/2126

Notes: Typically, National total emissions are presented excluding LULUCF (as they are in this report unless otherwise noted) due to the difficulty in comparing one country’s climate actions with another when it is included.  For the purpose of assessment against the National Climate Act target however, it is necessary to include this sector and where this is the case the inclusion is noted in the report.

Units: 1 Mt = 1,000 kilotonnesCO2 Equivalent: greenhouse gases other than CO2 (i.e. methane, nitrous oxide and so-called F-gases) may be converted to CO2 equivalent using their global warming potentials.

F-gases: These gases comprise HFCs (Hydroflurocarbons), PFCs (Perfluorcarbons), SF6 (Sulphur Hexafluoride) and NF3 (Nitrogen Trifluoride).  They are much more potent than the naturally occurring greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide).

Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Sectors:  include the following eleven sectors for analysis;

  1. Energy Industries (electricity generation, waste to energy incineration, oil refining, briquetting manufacture and fugitive emissions)
  2. Residential (combustion for domestic space and hot water heating)
  3. Manufacturing Combustion (combustion for Manufacturing industries in ETS and non-ETS)
  4. Commercial Services (combustion for Commercial Services space and hot water heating)
  5. Public Services (combustion for Public services space and hot water heating)
  6. Transport (combustion of fuel used in road, rail, navigation, domestic aviation and pipeline gas transport)
  7. Industrial Processes (process emissions from mineral, chemical, metal industries, non-energy products and solvents)
  8. F-Gases (gases used in refrigeration, air conditioning and semiconductor manufacture)
  9. Agriculture (emissions from fertiliser application, ruminant digestion, manure management, agricultural soils and fuel used in agriculture/forestry/fishing)
  10. Waste (emissions from solid waste disposal on land, solid waste treatment (composting and anaerobic digestion), wastewater treatment, waste incineration and open burning of waste)
  11. Land-Use, Land-use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) covers the following categories; Forest Land, Cropland, Grassland, Wetlands, Settlements, Other Land and Harvested Wood Products.