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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Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Greenhouse gas emissions Ireland

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Key messages

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Ireland decreased in 2019

Change in emissions since 2018


Despite the decrease, 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 1990-2019 are final figures based on the SEAI’s final energy balance released in November 2020.

Latest emissions data

59.78 Mt CO2eq

Ireland’s GHG emissions are estimated to be 59.78 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2eq)

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Energy industries

Greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 11.2% in 2019 due to reduction in coal and peat use and an increase in renewable energy for electricity generation

Emissions mainly from electricity generation


Coal in electricity generation -69% in 2019

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Residential/household sector was responsible for 10.9% of Ireland's GHG emissions in 2019

Residential emissions


Warmer winter in 2019 vs 2018 meant less heating required

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Transport emissions

Emissions decreased by 0.3% in 2019 but transport demand is still increasing



Biofuel use has increased in 2019

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Decreased emissions in 2019, driven by reduced nitrogen fertiliser use (down -10.1% in 2019) and a 25.4% reduction in the quantity of lime used on soils

Agriculture emissions


Overall decrease in agriculture emissions

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Emissions from the Waste sector decreased by 0.4% in 2019, with a decrease in sub category; landfills of 2.3%.

Waste sector emissions


Overall decreasing emissions trend

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Public and commercial services

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



The share of Ireland's emissions for 2019

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Manufacturing combustion

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

Manufacturing combustion


This sector was responsible for 7.7% of Ireland's total GHG emissions in 2019

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Industrial processes

In 2019 the industrial processes sector was responsible for 3.8% and F-gases 1.5% of Ireland's total GHG emissions

Industrial processes


Cement sector decreased by 2.0% in 2019

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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 estimated to be 7% below 2005 levels in 2020 under both the With Existing Measures and With Additional Measures scenarios.

Compliance with targets


Ireland is not on track to meet 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

  • 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.

  • 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 2020 the EPA will submit the 1990-2018 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 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.

  • What are ETS and ESD emissions?

    The EU emissions trading system (EU ETS) is a cornerstone of the European Union's policy to combat climate change and its key tool for reducing industrial greenhouse gas emissions cost-effectively. The first - and still by far the biggest - international system for trading greenhouse gas emission allowances, the EU ETS covers more than 11,000 power stations and industrial plants in 31 countries, as well as airlines.

    Installations and aircraft operators covered by the EU ETS are those which carry out activities listed in Annex I of the EU ETS Directive. Emissions occurring from the activities listed in Annex I are referred to as ETS emissions, and these are excluded from the Effort Sharing Decision targets. Emissions from activities occurring outside of the EU emissions trading system are referred to as ESD emissions or Effort Sharing Decision (ESD) emissions. agriculture and transport accounted for 72.9% of total ESD emissions in 2018.

Latest publications

in: Climate change
GHG projections report
Ireland's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Projections 2020-2040

The latest GHG projections report for Ireland

Ireland's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Projections 2020-2040

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 2019 final report cover
Ireland's final greenhouse gas emission estimates 1990-2019

GHG emissions report 1990-2019

A summary report of Ireland's final estimates of greenhouse gas emissions for the time period 1990-2019