Note: These pages present provisional 1990-2021 Inventory data (updated July 2022) and the EPA's latest 2021-2030 projections estimates (updated June 2022) using global warming potentials (GWP) from the IPCC's 5th Assessment Report (AR5).
In 2021, Ireland’s provisional GHG emissions are estimated to be 61.53 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2eq), which is 4.7% higher (or 2.76 Mt CO2 eq) than emissions in 2020 (58.77 Mt CO2 eq). There was a decrease of 3.4% in emissions reported for 2020 compared to 2019. Emissions are over 1% higher than pre-pandemic 2019 figures.
In 2021 national total emissions excluding Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) increased by 4.7%, emissions in the stationary ETS sector increased by 15.2% and emissions under the ESR (Effort Sharing Regulation) increased by 1.6%. When LULUCF is included, total national emissions increased by 5.5%.
Increased emissions in 2021 compared to 2020 were observed in the largest sectors except for residential, waste and commercial and public services. These 4 sectors showed decreases in emissions (-4.9%, -4.5%, -3.0% and -3.8% respectively), shown highlighted green in the "Emissions change 2020-2021" table below.
Emissions per capita increased from an historic low of 11.8 tonnes CO2eq/person in 2020 to 12.3 tonnes CO2eq/person in 2021. Ireland’s average tonnes of GHG/capita over the last ten years were 12.8 tonnes. With recent CSO preliminary 2022 census data showing a population of 5.12 million people and with population projected to increase to 5.5 million in 2030, 5.9 million in 2040 and 6.2 million by 2050, per capita emissions need to reduce significantly. At current per capita emission levels, each addition 500,000 people would contribute an additional 6 million tonnes of CO2eq annually.
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 2020-2021
|Mt CO2 eq||2020||2021||% Change|
|Total excluding LULUCF||58.77||61.53||4.7%|
|Total including LULUCF||65.71||69.30||5.5%|
Open in Excel: Change 2020-2021 by sector (XLS 11KB)
The greenhouse gas emission inventory for 2021 is the first of ten years over which compliance with targets set in the European Union’s Effort Sharing Regulation (EU 2018/842) will be assessed. This Regulation sets 2030 targets for emissions outside of the Emissions Trading Scheme (known as ESR emissions) and annual binding national limits for the period 2021-2030. Ireland’s target is to reduce ESR emissions by 30% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels, with a number of flexibilities available to assist in achieving this.
Ireland’s ESR emissions annual limit for 2021 is 43.48 Mt CO2eq. Ireland’s provisional 2021 greenhouse gas ESR emissions are 46.19 Mt CO2eq, this is 2.71 Mt CO2eq more than the annual limit for 2021. This value is the national total emissions less emissions generated by stationary combustion and aviation operators that are within the EU’s emissions trading scheme. This indicates that Ireland is not in compliance with its 2021 Effort Sharing Regulation annual limit, exceeding the allocation by 0.80 Mt CO2eq after using the ETS flexibility. Agriculture and Transport accounted for 73.4% of total ESR emissions in 2021.
The latest projections (March 2022) indicate that Ireland can achieve overall Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) compliance over the period 2021 to 2030 assuming full implementation of the 2021 Climate Action Plan and the use of the flexibilities available. In terms of the 2030 targets, the ESR provides two 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. The latest LULUCF data are substantially revised compared to previous year's projections and this impacts the projected flexibility available to be used, but has not affected compliance. The Projected Non ETS emissions and targets (AR5 GWP) with and without flexibilities under the ESR 2021-2030 graph below shows Ireland's ESR emissions and targets.
Effort Sharing Regulation emissions and targets
|Total greenhouse gas emissions without LULUCF||61528.09|
|- Total verified emissions from stationary installations under Directive 2003/87/EC||15320.02|
|- CO2 emissions from domestic aviation||20.04|
|Total ESR emissions||46188.03|
|ESR Annual Emission Allocation||43479.40||42,357||41,235||40,113||38,991||37,869||36,747||35,625||34,503||33,381|
|Gross distance to target||-2708.63|
|+ annualised ETS flexibility†||1907.50||1,908||1,908||1,908||1,908||1,908||1,908||1,908||1,908||1,908|
|+ annualised projected LULUCF flexibility*||0.00||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Net distance to target||-801.12|
|* No flexibility projected to be available under the EPA's "With Existing Measures" scenario|
|† Set out in Annex II and Annex III of Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2020/2126|
Open in Excel: Effort Sharing Regulation emissions and targets (XLS 12KB)
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 total net emissions (including LULUCF) based on 2020 data, which is the most recent available on the EEA data viewer https://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/data-viewers/greenhouse-gases-viewer
Ireland’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions increased in the period from 1990 to 2001 where it peaked at 71.42 Mt CO2 equivalent, before displaying a downward trend to 2014. Emissions increased by 4.3% 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 final estimates of total national GHG emissions amounted to 58.77 Mt CO2 equivalent, which is 3.6% lower than 2019 emissions largely driven by the covid restrictions. The gradual lifting of covid restrictions in 2021 along with an increase in the use of coal and less renewables within electricity generation resulted in a 4.7% increase in emissions in 2021 compared to 2020. Ireland’s GHG emissions have increased by 11.4% from 1990-2021.
In relation to the greenhouse gases; carbon dioxide (CO2) accounted for 61.0% of the total, with methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) contributing 27.9% and 9.9% as CO2 equivalent, respectively and F-gases contributing 1.2% of the total as CO2 equivalent.
In 2021, the energy industries, transport and agriculture sectors accounted for 72% of total GHG emissions. Agriculture is the single largest contributor to the overall emissions, at 37.5%. Transport, energy industries and the residential sector are the next largest contributors, at 17.7%, 16.7% and 11.4%, respectively.