Ireland’s power generation and industrial emissions decreased by seventeen per cent in 2023

Date released: April 05, 2024

  • In 2023, greenhouse gas emissions from Irish power generation and industrial companies covered by the EU Emissions Trading System decreased by 17 per cent.
  • Emissions decreased by almost 24 per cent from the electricity generation sector.
  • The decrease in industrial emissions was over six per cent, with cement industry emissions decreasing by 6.2 per cent mainly due to lower production levels.
  • In contrast, greenhouse gas emissions from aviation increased by more than nine per cent compared to 2022, which reflects continued growth in this sector.  

05April 2024: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), today released its preliminary analysis of greenhouse gas emissions in 2023 from the Emissions Trading System (ETS) sector.  Emissions from Irish power generation and industrial companies decreased by 17 per cent (more than 2.4 million tonnes) in 2023 to 12.19 million tonnes of CO2.  This compares with a decrease of approximately 15.5 per cent across Europe, according to data published by the EU Commission. 

Ireland’s ETS sector delivered a decrease in emissions in 2023 due to a combination of factors, including an increase in imports of electricity, the use of renewable electricity and renewable fuels as well as a decrease in cement production. 

The electricity sector used less coal generation compared to the previous year, with increased use of wind and solar powered electricity. This is the second year that a drop in emissions from Moneypoint is observed, but fossil-fired power stations continue to play a strong role in meeting a high electricity demand. Importation of electricity from other countries outside the EU will require a carbon price to be paid in the longer term under the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism unless there is a linking agreement with the ETS in the exporting country.  

Laura Burke, EPA Director General said: 
“While Ireland is increasingly moving away from coal generation, we still rely heavily on fossil fuels to meet our electricity demand. Ireland must continue to put a priority on renewable generation infrastructure to deliver grid decarbonisation.”  

109 major industrial and electricity generation sites were required to report their emissions for 2023 by 31 March 2024 in the EU 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. 

  • Cement industries recorded a six per cent decrease overall due to a drop in production.
  • Emissions from the food and drink sector also showed a decrease in emissions of more than three per cent.
  • Emissions from bulk manufacturing of pharmaceuticals decreased by more than six per cent while emissions from manufacture of pharmaceutical preparations increased slightly by almost three per cent. 

Aviation emissions from flights within the European Economic Area reported to Ireland by 31 March increased by over nine per cent compared to 2022, to over 11 million tonnes. This is still lower than the pre-pandemic levels of 12.8 million tonnes, nevertheless, the emissions data for 2023 reflect the ongoing growth of traffic in this sector and the need to put a series of measures in place to reduce air traffic emissions. The revised ETS Directive published in 2023, allows aircraft operators to claim free allocation where they can show that they have used Sustainable Aviation Fuels.

Dr Maria Martin, EPA Senior Manager, said: 

“The EU Emissions Trading System is one of the key policy tools driving decarbonisation. The system is expanding to bring in new sectors including buildings, road transport and smaller industries as well as the maritime sector and this will provide an incentive to reduce emissions in those areas.” 

Maritime emissions come under the EU ETS from the start of this year and this will provide an incentive to reduce emissions from container shipping and passenger ferries. 
Further details about Emissions Trading are available on the EPA website. Further information about Ireland's overall greenhouse gas emissions is also available on the EPA website and the EPA has developed useful infographics and published the detailed greenhouse gas inventory here. 

Analysis of the EU data can be found in a DG Climate Action news article published on 3rd April which also contains a link to the data.  
Further information: Niamh Hatchell, 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”. 109 major industrial and powergen sites were required to report their emissions for 2023 to the EPA by 31 March 2024. 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.