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 projected scenarios (With Existing Measures and With Additional Measures) compared to the target of 20% below 2005 levels by 2020. Ireland is estimated to have cumulatively exceeded its compliance obligations by 12.2 Mt CO2 eq over the 2013-2020 period, and will need to use credits and/or purchase surplus annual emission allocation from other member states to achieve compliance.

In 2020 the sectors with the largest contribution of emissions are agriculture (37.4%), transport (18.4%) and energy industries (14.8%). This projection includes the impact of COVID on the 2020 emissions which, due to national lockdowns, saw transport emissions decline but agriculture emissions largely unaffected. Ireland is projected to exceed the 2020 ESD targets despite the impact of the pandemic.
These projections indicate that Ireland can meet its non-ETS EU targets over the period 2021 to 2030 assuming full implementation of the 2019 Climate Action Plan and the use of the flexibilities available. In terms of the 2030 targets, the ESR provides two new flexibilities (use of ETS allowances and credit from action undertaken in the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector) to allow for a fair and cost-efficient achievement of the targets. Ireland can potentially avail of up to 26.8 Mt CO2 eq of credits under the latter flexibility, almost 10% of the total available under this flexibility across the EU. This is in recognition of the greater relative contribution of agriculture to Ireland’s emissions profile, and the challenges associated with emissions reductions from that sector. Our projections show that Ireland can meet its 2030 targets only with full implementation of the 2019 Climate Action Plan and the use of both flexibilities. Greenhouse gas emissions: Projections to 2020 graph above shows Ireland's ESD emissions and targets.

Ireland's National Policy Position

Ireland’s existing long term National Policy Position on Climate Action and Low Carbon Development has set a target of an aggregate reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of at least 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050 across the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors (EGBET). The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021, when enacted, will set a 'national climate objective' to achieve a climate neutral economy no later than 2050 and a total reduction of 51% emissions over the period to 2030. Once the policies and measures have been identified to address these targets, they will be included in future emissions projections.

The latest historic and projected emissions for CO2 only (under the With Additional Measures scenario) from EGBET sectors, in addition to the 2050 target pathway based on the long-term vision of low-carbon transition as described above, are shown in the graph below.

GHG emissions EGBET

GHG Emissions Projections to 2020

The 2020 EU Effort Sharing target commits Ireland to reducing emissions from those sectors that are not covered by the Emissions Trading Scheme (agriculture, transport, residential, commercial, non-energy intensive industry and waste) to 20 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.  Ireland breached its annual obligation target for the first time in 2016 and again in 2017 and 2018.  While there is over-achievement of annual obligations in the early years of the compliance period (2013-2020), this will not be sufficient to allow Ireland to cumulatively meet its compliance obligations.  Current policies and measures to 2020, including targets for energy efficiency in our homes and businesses and increasing renewable fuel use in transport and heating, will not be sufficient to meet 2020 emission reduction targets. 

See further detail in the EPA report Greenhouse Gas Emissions Projections 2020 to 2040.

Further information about Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions is available on our website.

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