In 2020, Ireland’s GHG emissions are estimated to be 57.70 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2eq), which is 3.6% lower (or 2.14 Mt CO2 eq) than emissions in 2019 (59.84 Mt CO2 eq). There was a decrease of 4.0% in emissions reported for 2019 compared to 2018. Emissions reductions have been recorded in six of the last ten years of inventory data (2010-2020). In 2020 national total emissions decreased by 3.6%, emissions in the stationary ETS sector decreased by 6.4% and emissions under the ESD (Effort Sharing Decision) decreased by 2.7%.
Decreased emissions in 2020 compared to 2019 were observed in most sectors except for residential, agriculture and public services. These 3 sectors showed increases in emissions (+9.0%, +1.4% and +1.0% respectively), shown highlighted red in the "Emissions change 2019-2020" table below.
These decreases in emissions is a small step on the road to achievement of Ireland’s long-term decarbonisation goals.
Arresting growth in emissions is a challenge in the context of a growing economy but one which must continue to be addressed by households, business, farmers and communities if Ireland is to reap the benefits of a low-carbon economy.
Show emissions change 2019-2020
|Mt CO2 eq||2019||2020||% Change|
Open in Excel: Change 2019-2020 by sector (XLS 11KB)
The table below shows the assessment of compliance under the European Union's Effort Sharing Decision which set a target for 2020 for sectors outside of the Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) and annual binding limits for the period 2013-2020. The years 2013-2019 have been reviewed and compliance agreed by the European Commission under Article 19 of the Monitoring Mechanism Regulation (MMR No. 525/2013/EU). Ireland has exceeded its Effort Sharing Decision annual limit for the years 2016- 2019. Ireland’s annual limit for 2020 is 37.65 Mt CO2eq. Ireland’s provisional 2020 greenhouse gas ESD emissions are 44.40 Mt CO2eq, 6.73 Mt CO2eq more than the annual limit for 2020. In contrast to sectors in the EU ETS which are regulated at EU level, Ireland is responsible for national policies and measures to limit emissions from the sectors covered by the Effort Sharing Decision. Further information can be found on the European Commission website on the Effort Sharing Decision and emission targets.
Effort sharing decision emissions and targets
|F||Total ESD emissions||42,206.8||41,663.0||43,037.2||43,798.2||43,828.7||45,378.6||45,579.6||44,384.8||kt CO2eq|
|G||EU ESD Targets||46,891.9||45,760.9||44,629.9||43,498.9||40,885.1||39807.1||38729.2||37,651.3||kt CO2eq|
|Distance to target (= F-G)||-4,685.1||-4,097.9||-1,592.7||299.3||2,943.7||5571.4||6850.3||6,733.5|
Open in Excel: ESD targets download (XLS 10KB)
As the graph below shows Ireland has higher than average emissions of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) because we have the highest agriculture emission contribution towards national total emissins from any of the EU member states. A similar pattern can be seen in New Zealand where agriculture is also an important part of the economy. These figures reflect the relative importance of agriculture to Ireland’s economy, and the lack of heavy industry in comparison to some other member states. Agricultural emissions are dominated by CH4 from enteric fermentation and manure management and N2O from fertiliser, manure applied to land and animal excreta deposited directly onto pasture. The graph below is based on 2019 data, which is the most recent available on the EEA data viewer.
Ireland’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions increased in the period from 1990 to 2001 where it peaked at 70.49 Mt CO2 equivalent, before displaying a downward trend to 2014. Emissions increased by 4.2% and 3.7%, respectively in the years, 2015 and 2016 and remained relatively stable in 2017 and 2018, followed by a 4.0% decrease in 2019. In 2020 provisional estimates of total national GHG emissions amounted to 57.70Mt CO2 equivalent, which is 3.6% lower than 2019 emissions. Ireland’s GHG emissions have increased by 6.1% from 1990-2020.
In relation to the greenhouse gases; carbon dioxide (CO2) accounted for 60.9% of the total, with methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) contributing 25.9% and 11.9% as CO2 equivalent, respectively and F-gases contributing 1.4% of the total as CO2 equivalent.
In 2020, the energy industries, transport and agriculture sectors accounted for 70.1% of total GHG emissions. Agriculture is the single largest contributor to the overall emissions, at 37.1%. Transport, energy industries and the residential sector are the next largest contributors, at 17.9%, 15.0% and 12.3%, respectively.