The EPA's Role in addressing climate change

The EPA’s role in addressing climate change challenges includes collating national greenhouse gas emissions and projections; regulating emissions from industrial sectors; supporting climate science research; supporting behavioural change and facilitating the National Dialogue on Climate Action.

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What can you do?

Reduce your transport carbon footprint, improve the energy efficiency of your home and avoid food waste - a climate action you can do every day.

 Remember:

“EVERY BIT OF WARMING MATTERS. EVERY YEAR MATTERS.

EVERY CHOICE MATTERS”

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Greenhouse gas emissions Ireland

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Key messages

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Ireland decreased in 2020

Change in emissions since 2019

-3.6%

Emissions decreases were driven by the COVID impact on transport highlighting that Ireland is still not on the pathway required to meet future targets and a climate neutral economy.

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Latest emissions estimates

Ireland’s latest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 1990-2020 are provisional figures based on the SEAI’s energy balance released in September 2021.

Latest emissions data

57.70 Mt CO2eq

Ireland’s GHG emissions are estimated to be 57.70 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2eq)

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Energy industries

Greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 7.9% in 2020 due to the reduction in peat use and an increase in renewable energy for electricity generation

Emissions mainly from electricity generation

-7.9%

Peat in electricity generation -51% in 2020

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Residential

Residential/household sector was responsible for 12.3% of Ireland's GHG emissions in 2020

Residential emissions

+9.0%

Colder winter in 2020 vs 2019, home working and cheaper oil prices in early 2020 meant more heating in homes.

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Transport emissions

Emissions decreased by 15.7% in 2020 due to impact of COVID restrictions

Transport

-15.7%

Passenger cars were responsible for 59% of road transport emissions.

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Agriculture

Increased emissions in 2020, driven by increased nitrogen fertiliser use (+3.3% in 2020) and increased numbers of dairy cows (+3.2%)

Agriculture emissions

+1.4%

Overall increase in agriculture emissions

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Waste

Emissions from the Waste sector decreased by 0.8% in 2020, with a decrease in sub category; landfills of 1.3%.

Waste sector emissions

-0.8%

Overall decreasing emissions trend

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Commercial and Public services

The Commercial/Public services sector estimates emissions from fuel combustion for space and hot water heating in commercial and public buildings in Ireland.

Commercial/Public share

3.2%

COVID restrictions had little impact on commercial or public services sectors

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Manufacturing combustion

Emissions from combustion of fuels in manufacturing industry. It also includes combustion for combined heat and power for own use in these industries.

Manufacturing combustion

-1.5%

This sector was responsible for 7.8% of Ireland's total GHG emissions in 2020

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Industrial processes

In 2020 the industrial processes sector was responsible for 3.7% and F-gases 1.4% of Ireland's total GHG emissions

Industrial processes

-7.0%

Cement sector process emissions decreased by 6.5% in 2020

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LULUCF

Forest land, Cropland, Grassland, Wetlands, Settlements, Other land and Harvested Wood products are included in LULUCF

Latest inventory data for 2019 shows that land use, land use change and forestry activity emit

4.4 Mt CO2eq

This sector is a net source of carbon in all years.

Progress to targets

In relation to 2020 EU targets, Ireland’s emissions covered by the 2013-2020 EU Effort Sharing Decision target are provisionally estimated to be 7% below 2005 levels in 2020 compared to the target of 20% below 2005 levels by 2020.

Compliance with targets

7%/20%

Ireland has not met the target of 20% reduction by 2020.

FAQs on greenhouse gas (GHG)

in: Climate Change

Ireland's GHG emissions inventory

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol provide the basis for international action to address climate change. The objective of the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous human-induced interference with the climate system. The ability of the international community to achieve this objective is dependent on an accurate knowledge of emissions trends, and on our collective ability to alter these trends. Reliable GHG inventories are essential, both at national and international level. Parties to the convention and its Kyoto Protocol are committed to developing and publishing the national emission inventories of GHGs which is a key element of assessing progress towards meeting commitments and targets.

The EPA has overall responsibility for the national greenhouse gas inventory in Ireland's national system and compiles Ireland's national greenhouse gas emission inventory on an annual basis. 

Emissions data for the following gases is reported on an annual basis: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perflurocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3). 

Ireland's GHG emissions projections

The National Climate Change Strategy (2007) designated the EPA with responsibility for developing national emission projections for greenhouse gases for all key sectors of the economy. Emission projections serve to inform national policy initiatives and allow Ireland to comply with EU and UN reporting obligations on emissions projections. The EPA produces national greenhouse gas emission projections on an annual basis.

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Popular FAQs

  • How up to date is Irish national inventory data?

    The data submitted in the current year is the inventory for x-2 years so for example in 2022 the EPA will submit to the EU and UNFCCC, the 1990-2020 time series. All reports and infographics are based on the 1990-x-2 timeseries and the most recent year of data. A provisional estimate of emissions is produced in quarter four of the year before submission and the website will be updated with this provisional data as soon as it is available.

  • What are greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories and projections?

    A greenhouse gas emission inventory is a compilation of historical greenhouse gas emissions from sources, such as transport, power generation, industry and agriculture, from 1990 to the most recent year for which data is available.

    A greenhouse gas emission projection is an estimate of what emission levels are likely to be in the future. They are based on key assumptions such as economic growth, fuel prices and Government policy.

    Essentially the inventory data provides a summary of past emissions whereas the projections attempt to estimate the emissions in the future.

    National Emission Inventories; The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol provide the basis for international action to address climate change. Parties to the convention and its Kyoto Protocol are committed to developing and publishing the national emission inventories of greenhouse gases (GHGs) which is a key element of assessing progress towards meeting commitments and targets.

    The EPA compiles Ireland's national greenhouse gas emission inventory on an annual basis. This inventory is submitted to the European Commission and UNFCCC each year by 15 January and 15 April respectively.

    Emissions data for the following gases is reported on an annual basis: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perflurocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3).

    Emissions are classified into the ten following sectors; agriculture, transport, energy industries, residential, manufacturing combustion, industrial processes, F-gases, waste, commercial services and public services.

  • What do WEM and WAM scenarios in emissions projections mean?

    With Existing Measures scenarios. Scenario assume that no additional policies and measures beyond those already in place by the end of the latest national GHG inventory year at the time of the projections compilation.

    With Additional Measures scenarios assume implementation of the WEM scenario in addition to, based on current progress, further implementation of planned government policies and measures adopted after the end of the latest inventory year. In the case of the latest projections (published in June 2021), this includes the implementation of Ireland’s 2019 Climate Action Plan. This Plan, published in June 2019, sets out a major programme of policies and measures aimed to help Ireland achieve its decarbonisation goals.

    Further information on the policies and measures for the individual sectors that are included in both With Existing Measures and With Additional Measures scenarios in the latest emissions projections is available in Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Projections 2020-2040.

     

  • What do decarbonisation goals and low carbon economy mean?

    Decarbonisation means reduction of carbon. What is meant is the conversion to an economic system that sustainably reduces and compensates the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). The long-term goal is to create a CO2-free global economy.

    A low-carbon economy, low-fossil-fuel economy, or decarbonised economy is an economy based on low-carbon power sources that therefore has a minimal output of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, specifically carbon dioxide. A low-carbon economy is simply an economy that causes low levels of GHG emissions compared with today's carbon-intensive economy. 'Carbon' refers to carbon dioxide, the GHG, which contributes the most to climate change. The low-carbon economy can be seen as a step in the process towards a zero-carbon economy.

  • What is LULUCF?

    Land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF), also referred to as forestry and other land use (FOLU), is defined by the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat as a "greenhouse gas inventory sector that covers emissions and removals of greenhouse gases resulting from direct human-induced land use such as settlements and commercial uses, land-use change, and forestry activities." It covers the following categories forest land, cropland, grassland, wetlands, settlements, other land and harvested wood products.

    Reporting of the LULUCF sector

    The UNFCCC reporting guidelines on annual inventories for Parties included in Annex I to the Convention (Decision 24/CP.19)provide guidance on the estimation and reporting of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol caused by activities relating to land use, land use change and forestry. The guidance stipulates that reporting under the UNFCCC covers all anthropogenic emissions and removals from the lands included in the LULUCF sector (land-based approach). In principle, this approach applies a wall-to-wall comprehensive inventory of anthropogenic sources and sinks of greenhouse gases over the land units subject to activities relating to land use, land use change and forestry.

Latest Climate Change

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Ireland's Provisional Greenhouse Gas emissions 1990-2020

Prepared by EPA's Emissions Statistics team

The EPA has produced provisional estimates of greenhouse gas emissions for the time period 1990-2020

NIR report cover 2021
Ireland's National Inventory Submission 2021

National submission of greenhouse gas emissions Ireland

Ireland's national inventory submission for years 1990-2019 including the National Inventory Report (NIR) and common reporting format (CRF) tables and any supplementary files.

GHG projections report
Ireland's greenhouse gas emission projections 2020-2040

the latest GHG projections report for Ireland

Ireland's greenhouse gas emission projections 2020-2040