Key messages

Note: These pages present provisional 1990-2021 Inventory data using global warming potentials (GWP) from the IPCC's 5th Assessment Report (AR5) (updated July 2022) and the EPA's latest 2021-2030 projections estimates (updated June 2022) using global warming potentials (GWP) from the IPCC's 4th Assessment Report (AR4). 

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Ireland increased 4.7% in 2021.  The increase in emissions are reflected in most of the large sectors with the exception of decreases in residential, waste, commercial and public services sectors. There was also an 11.9% increase in Land Use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF).

Agriculture emission increased by 3.0% in 2021 (0.66 Mt CO2eq). The main reasons are increases of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser use of 5.2% and in liming of soils by 49.5%. The numbers of livestock increased, including dairy cows by 2.8%, other cattle 0.3%, sheep 0.3% and pigs 4.5% in 2021. Total milk production increased by 5.5% in 2021 with milk output per cow also increasing 2.5%.

4 sectors

Energy industry emissions increased by 17.6% (1.53 Mt CO2eq) in 2021. The most significant change in fuel used was an increase in both coal and oil and a decrease in renewable energy used for electricity generation.

In 2021 electricity generated:

  • From coal and oil – increased by 245% and 237% respectively
  • From wind energy – decreased by 16%
  • From renewable energy – decreased from 42.3% in 2020 to 34.7% of all electricity generated in Ireland in 2021.

Household emissions (the residential sector) decreased by 4.9% (0.36 Mt CO₂eq) in 2021. The reduction was caused by a combination of: reduced time in the home due the partial lifting of COVID restrictions, a milder winter and increased fuel prices. Coal, Peat and kerosene sales declined by 4.6%, 5.0% and 11.8% respectively, whilst natural gas and heating oil showed an increase of 0.9% and 4.6% respectively. This demonstrates the effect weather has on heating requirements and hence emissions from households. This shows the need to improve the energy efficiency of our housing stock and to increase the use of renewable energy. It is particularly important, given the increased frequency of extreme weather events. 

Transport emissions increased by 6.1% in 2021 (0.63 Mt CO2eq). This increase was largely caused by the partial lifting of COVID travel restrictions on passenger car and public transport usage. Electric Vehicles now account for just under 24% of the 2025 policy target.

In road transport in 2021:

  • Diesel use increased by 6.7%
  • Petrol use increased by 6.1%
  • Biodiesel and bioethanol use increased by 1.9% and 4.6 % respectively

This downward trend in emissions from transport can be continued if the proposed trajectory for biofuel blends can be achieved and if people change to electric vehicles, reduce their number of car journeys and increase their use of public transport, walkways and cycleways.

The impact of Electric Vehicles in reducing Transport emissions is still very low due to the low number in the vehicle fleet but they are projected to contribute substantially to emissions reductions towards the latter half of the 2020s. However, many more measures will need to be implemented to counter the projected increase in the overall fleet.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions By Sector

Ireland's emissions profile has changed considerably since 1990, with the contribution from transport more than doubling and the share from agriculture reducing since 1998. However, since 2011, emissions have trended upwards again with an overall peak in emissions reported in 2018. Agriculture is the largest source of emissions, representing 37.5 per cent of total national emissions in 2021, based on provisional estimates. Both the transport and energy industries sectors represent 17.7 and 16.7 per cent respectively, of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2021. The transport sector has been the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. Further information about Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions is available on our website.

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Status for Indicator at Amber

Further findings of GHG emissions 2021

  • For 2021, total national GHG emissions (excluding LULUCF) are estimated to be 61.53 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2eq). This is 4.7% higher (2.76Mt CO2eq) than emissions in 2020.
  • In 2021, emissions in the European Union’s Emissions Trading Sector (ETS) increased by 15.2% or 2.02 Mt CO2eq and ESR emissions increased by 1.6% or 0.73 Mt CO2eq.
  • Agriculture and transport sectors accounted for 73.4% of total ESR emissions in 2021.
  • Commercial services emissions decreased by 3.0% and public services sector emissions decreased by 3.8% in 2021.
  • Emissions from combustion in manufacturing industry[1] increased by 0.04 Mt CO2eq or 0.9% in 2021. 
  • The industrial processes sector emissions increased by 16.8% or 0.35 Mt CO2eq, mainly due to increased cement production with all cement plants increasing production above pre-pandemic levels. 
  • Emissions from the waste sector decreased by 4.5% or 0.04 Mt CO2eq in 2021.
  • Ireland has an objective of climate neutrality by 2050 with an interim target of a 51% reduction in GHG emissions, including LULUCF, by 2030 relative to a baseline of 2018. The latest Projections indicate that the sectoral and overall targets set out in the Climate Action Plan will bot be met with the measures currently modelled. An emissions reduction of 28% in 2030 vs 2018 is projected in the With Additional Measures scenario, this is compared to the 51% target, despite an assumption that the lower end of the agriculture target (22% reduction compared to 2018) is met.

[1] Manufacturing combustion; includes combustion of fuels in Industry and construction, both in ETS and ESR

 

Ireland's projected emissions 2021-2030

(Latest update June 2022)

Ireland's latest projections show total emissions (without LULUCF) decreasing from the Inventory (2020) levels by 11% by 2030 under the With Existing Measures (WEM) scenario and by 28% under the With Additional Measures (WAM) scenario. The gap between both scenarios is largely attributed to significant reductions in key sectors such as power generation, residential, transport, commercial and public services and agriculture as a result of the Climate Action Plan. Three key sectors; agriculture, transport and energy industries consistently have the largest share of emissions. Under the WEM scenario, emissions from agriculture and transport are projected to increase by 1.8% and 0.6% respectively over the period 2020 to 2030. Emissions from energy industries are projected to decrease by 38% over the same period. When we look at the more ambitious WAM scenario, emissions from agriculture, transport and energy reduce by 20%, 28% and 49% respectively.

Full and early implementation of the Climate Action Plan is needed if the savings projected in the With Additional Measures are to materialise. The scale and pace of the changes needed are significant, requiring much greater reliance on renewables, cross-cutting measures such as an €100 per tonne of CO2 carbon tax by 2030 and further ambitious measures in sectors such as transport, agriculture and power generation.

Further information is available at the EPA's latest report Ireland' Greenhouse Gas Emissions Projections, however, please note data in the summary report is presented using Global warming potentials (GWP) from the IPCC's 5th Assessment Report (AR5). This accounts for the slight differences in figures between final report and information on these webpages.