Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions from EU Emissions Trading Scheme participants decrease for first time since 2013

Date released: Apr 11 2018

Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions from EU Emissions Trading Scheme participants decrease for first time since 2013

  • Overall emissions of greenhouse gases from Irish power generation and industrial companies in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme decreased by 4.8 per cent in 2017. This is the first overall decrease in emissions levels from these companies since 2013.
    • Emissions from the Power generation sector decreased by 8.2 per cent, largely driven by the use of less coal and peat and a greater use of renewable energy.
    • Cement industry emissions increased by 2.1 per cent.
    • Food and Drink industry emissions increased by 2.5 per cent.

Ireland’s emissions from the 103 stationary facilities in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme were down by 4.8 per cent in 2017 compared to 2016. This is compared to an increase of approximately 0.3 per cent across Europe. Emissions from the Irish power generation sector, down by 8.2 per cent, contributed the major share of the decrease in emission levels.  Emissions from the cement sector rose by 2.1 per cent and from the food and drink industry sector rose by 2.5 per cent.

 David Flynn, EPA Programme Manager, said:

“This is the first time since 2013 that Ireland’s Emissions Trading Scheme emissions have shown a decrease.  The decrease is principally due to a welcome reduction in the use of carbon-intensive fossil fuels in power generation and an increase in the use of renewable energy.  These changes demonstrate a move in the right direction for the necessary transformation in Ireland’s energy system. 
“Although it is positive to see reducing carbon intensity in electricity generation, other sectors recorded higher emission levels.  It is important that investment in low carbon technologies is made attractive for industry. A higher price for carbon will help to drive such investment. It is encouraging to see the carbon price is now above €10 per tonne following recent amendments to the Emissions Trading Scheme Directive for the period 2021-2030.”

In Ireland, 103 major industrial and institutional sites participate in the Emissions Trading Scheme. 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.

All companies participating in the scheme are required to report their emissions to the EPA by 31 March each year.

Details of the verified emissions of greenhouse gases in 2017 are available on the EU’s website. The data are not complete for all Member states.

Further details about Emissions Trading  are available on the EPA website. Further information about Ireland’s total greenhouse gas emissions is also available, on the EPA website.

The EPA has developed a useful Infographic entitled The Simple Guide to Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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

Notes to Editor:

The EU Emissions Trading Scheme covers large energy users and electricity generators these are known as “stationary installations”. Mobile sources in the form of large aircraft were introduced into scheme for the first time in 2012. Emissions from aviation showed an 11 per cent increase in 2017 compared to 2016. These emissions come 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. 

For comparative purposes Ireland's verified  EU Emissions Trading Scheme emissions since 2005 were as follows (keep in mind that from year to year the scope of the scheme can change somewhat as some installations close and new ones open):

Verified Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Mtonnes CO2) -Stationary Installations

Emissions 22.43 21.7 21.25 20.38 17.22 17.36 15.77 16.89 15.68 15.95 16.83 17.73 16.89


European emissions figures: The increase of approximately 0.3 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 in comparison to 2016 across Europe in Emissions Trading Scheme emissions excluding aviation emissions is an estimate by Thomson Reuters based on preliminary analysis of EEA wide data.

Emissions Trading: Emissions trading is a “Cap and Trade” scheme where an EU wide limit or cap is set for participating installations. The cap is reduced over time so that total emissions fall. Within that limit “allowances” for emissions are auctioned or allocated for free (outside the power generation sector). Individual installations must report their CO2 emissions each year and surrender sufficient allowances to cover their emissions. If their available allowances are exceeded an installation must purchase allowances. If an installation has succeeded in reducing its emissions, it can sell its leftover allowances.  The system is designed to bring about reductions in emissions at least cost, and is envisaged to play an increasingly important role in assisting European industry implement the type of reductions envisaged in the EU Commission’s limit of at least an overall 20 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 2020.

The Environmental Protection Agency is the competent authority for implementation of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme in Ireland including the administering of accounts on Ireland’s domain in the Union Registry. Currently there are 103 stationary installations with open accounts and two more are due to open accounts this year. Fourteen aviation operators are also currently included in the scheme including six large Irish licenced commercial airlines.

International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Assembly Resolution A39-3 decided to implement a global Market Based Mechanism in the form of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) to address any annual increase in total CO2 emissions from international civil aviation (i.e. civil aviation flights that depart in one country and arrive in a different country) above 2020 levels, taking into account special circumstances and respective capabilities. In view of the CORSIA and to facilitate its implementation aircraft operators in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme are only required to report and surrender in relation to emissions from flights within the EEA for the period 2017 – 2023. This “reduced scope” was already in operation from 2013-2016 in order to facilitate progress on international aviation emission reductions at the ICAO.