Overall decrease in Ireland’s Greenhouse Gases in 2006

Date released: Jan 15 2008

Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas emissions fell by 0.8 per cent in 2006, as compared to 2005.  Figures released today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show that, while Ireland’s Kyoto target in the period 2008-2012 is 62.84 million tonnes per annum, Ireland’s emissions in 2006 of 69.77 million tonnes were almost seven million tonnes above this limit. 

The EPA compiles Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas emission estimates annually.  The 2006 figures have been submitted to the European Commission and will remain provisional until March 2008.  Download the summary report on the 2006 figures

Commenting on the figures Dr Mary Kelly, Director General, EPA said,

“While the figures are encouraging, and the reduction of 0.8% is most welcome, the remaining distance to our Kyoto target is substantial and shows that we continue to face a very major challenge. Reducing emissions in a growing economy will require a major effort on all our parts. Transport figures remain particularly worrying.  In 2006, they increased by 5.2 per cent on 2005, similar to the increases we have seen from this sector over recent years.  Major efforts will be required to halt and reverse this trend. Emissions from power generation in 2006 showed a welcome reduction of 4.6 per cent on 2005. As the Government target for increased use of renewables begins to be delivered, we would hope for further reductions in the period to 2020.”

The rise of transport emissions was by far the largest in any sector in 2006 and reflected a 165 per cent increase on 1990 figures. Transport emissions made up almost 20 per cent of the 2006 total, most of which were generated by road transport (97%). The increase reflects increasing vehicle numbers, a trend towards purchasing larger vehicles, an increased reliance on private cars and increasing road freight transport.

Agriculture emissions continued to decrease in 2006 (by 1.4 per cent), reflecting lower livestock numbers and decreased fertilizer use.  However agriculture remains the single largest contributor to overall emissions at almost 28 per cent. 

The data released today include trends since 1990 and show Ireland’s status in meeting our target set under the Kyoto Protocol. Commenting on whether Ireland can reach its Kyoto target by 2012, Dr Kelly said:

“The Kyoto target will be met by a combination of domestic actions with some purchase of carbon credits as allowed for under the Kyoto Protocol and provided for in Ireland’s National Climate Change Strategy. Today’s figures show that the Government’s target of 3% annual reductions in emissions over the next 5 years will be extremely challenging and further emphasises that actions to reduce domestic emissions must be intensified and strengthened.  Greenhouse gases emitted now will remain in the atmosphere for many decades and affect the climate for centuries to come. Policy makers must use the detailed breakdown of figures in each sector, provided today, to focus on all areas where reductions are possible and need to be achieved.”

In the post-Kyoto period to 2020 emissions reductions in the order of 20 to 30 per cent on 1990 emissions are being proposed to avoid irreversible and damaging climate change.  Europe is attempting to limit the inevitable global temperature increase to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times.  Ireland needs to play its role in meeting this objective. 

Download the provisional figures for 2006 from the EPA website.