Small annual reduction in Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2008

Date released: Dec 13 2009

  • Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas emissions fell by 210,000 tonnes (0.3%) in 2008 to 67.43 million tonnes.
  • The effects of the economic downturn are mainly evident in the 523,600 tonne reduction (4.4 %) in emissions from the Industry and Commercial sector with smaller decreases (less than 1%) from the Agriculture and Transport sectors.
  • However an increase in emissions of 603,700 tonnes from the Residential sector (reflecting colder winter months) cancels the benefit of these reductions to a large extent. Energy sector emissions are largely unchanged.
  • Improved methodologies in the Energy and Waste sectors have resulted in emissions decreasing by 0.56 million tonnes in 1990 and by 1.56 million tonnes in 2008.
  • Distance above our Kyoto Limit is now 4.4 million tonnes (7 %).

Provisional Greenhouse Gas emissions figures released today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for use in the annual Carbon Budget, include trends since 1990 and show Ireland’s status in meeting our obligations set under the Kyoto Protocol. Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas emissions fell by 210,000 tonnes (0.3 %) in 2008.

Agriculture remains the single largest contributor to the overall emissions, at 27.5% of the total, followed by Energy (power generation & oil refining) at 21.6% and Transport at 21.3%. The remainder is made up by the Residential sector at 10.3%, Industry and Commercial at 17.6%, and Waste at 1.8%.

The figures show that, while Ireland’s Kyoto limit in the period 2008-2012 is 62.84 million tonnes per annum, Ireland’s emissions in 2008 were 4.4 million tonnes (7%) above this limit when account is taken of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and of approved Forest Sinks

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

“While a reduction of even 0.3% is most welcome, the remaining distance to our Kyoto limit is substantial, and shows that we continue to face a very major challenge.”

“The reduction is, however, disappointingly small when seen in the light of the downturn in economic activity during 2008 and the expected initial impact of the measures already adopted under the National Climate Change Strategy.  It further emphasises that it is essential to keep reduction measures under review and, where necessary, to extend them or to adopt additional measures.”


Changes to sectoral emissions between 2007 and 2008 are as follows:

Industry and Commercial
Emissions decreased by 523,600 tonnes (4.4 %) from 11.92 million tonnes in 2007 to 11.39 million tonnes in 2008 reflecting decreases in CO2 from combustion sources and cement production.

The emissions from agriculture decreased by 172,400 tonnes (0.9 %) in 2008, continuing the downward trend from the 1998 peak. The decline in emissions reflects lower sheep and cattle numbers and reduced use of fertiliser.

Transport emissions were 121,100 tonnes lower in 2008 than in 2007. This represents a decrease of 0.8 %, following sustained increases in this sector since 1990. The decrease may reflect the initial impact of the economic downturn plus the changes in vehicle registration tax and road tax introduced in mid 2008.  It may also reflect the effect of the on-going rollout of Transport 21.  Emissions in 2008 were 176 % higher than the 1990 transport emissions.

Emissions in 2008 were similar to 2007 with a small increase of 86,000 tonnes (0.6%).

Emissions in 2008 increased by 603,700 tonnes (8.7 %) from the 2007 level. This was the largest sectoral change in 2008.  It would appear to reflect increased use of domestic heating as a result of the winter months of 2008 being significantly colder than for the same period in 2007.

Emissions for this sector show a decrease of 83,300 tonnes (7 %) below the 2007 level. Emissions in 2008 are 15 % lower than in 1990. In addition, the EPA has used a revised methodology based on the latest IPCC Guidelines to estimate methane generation in landfills together with the results of a major EPA funded research study on methane flaring to develop substantially revised estimates of emissions for all years.

Further information: Niamh Leahy, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours)

Editor’s notes:

Tonnes = tonnes CO2 equivalent

EU Emissions Trading Scheme
Approximately one third of Ireland’s GHG emissions are covered by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Allocations to these installations impact on the calculation of the distance to target during the 2008 – 2012 period. For detailed calculation see Table 1 in attached link.

Forest Sinks
Increases in approved Forest Sinks count towards achievement of our Kyoto limit and hence need to be included when estimating distance to target. In 2008 these amounted to 2.09 million tonnes.