Updated Aug 2, 2022

Ireland publish provisional GHG emissions for 1990-2021

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have published the Provisional Greenhouse Gas Emissions for 2021.

The EPA is responsible for compiling the inventories of greenhouse gas emissions for Ireland and for reporting the data to the relevant European and international institutions. Ireland’s legal reporting obligations
require that data is submitted for the period 1990-2021 in January, March and April 2023 to the European Commission and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Key findings

The key findings of the report are as follows:

An increase in overall greenhouse gas emissions driven by coal fired electricity. In 2021, the total national greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to have increased by 4.7% on 2020 levels to 61.53 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2eq). This was driven by increased use of coal and oil for electricity generation and increases in both the Agriculture and Transport sectors. It highlights that further, transformative measures will be needed to meet National Climate ambitions.

EU Effort Sharing limits were exceeded. The provisional estimates of greenhouse gas emissions indicate that Ireland will exceed its 2021 annual limit, without the use of flexibilities, set under the EU’s Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR). This is the first year of compliance under the ESR.

Higher 2021 emissions both within and outside the Emissions Trading Scheme. Emissions from Ireland’s Emissions Trading Sector (ETS) increased by 15.2% in 2021 while ESR emissions increased by 1.6%.

Carbon Budget 2021-2025. Provisional National total emissions for 2021 at 69.29 Mt CO2eq have used 23.5% of the Carbon Budget for the five-year period 2021-2025. This leaves 76.5% of the budget available for the succeeding four years, requiring an 8.4 per cent average annual emissions reduction from 2022-2025 to stay within budget.

More coal and less wind means more emissions from electricity generation. Emissions in the Energy Industries sector increased by 17.6% in 2021. This is attributable to a tripling of coal and oil use in electricity generation as gas fired plant were offline. Electricity generated from wind and hydro decreased by 16% and 20% respectively in 2021.

More livestock and fertiliser use increase agriculture emissions. Agriculture emissions increased by 3.0% in 2021, driven by increased fertiliser nitrogen use (5.2%), limestone application (49.5%) increased numbers of livestock including dairy cows (2.8%), other cattle (0.3%), sheep (0.3%) and pigs (4.5%). Total milk production increased by 5.5% in 2021, with milk output per cow also increasing (2.5%).

Transport emissions increase post COVID. Greenhouse gas emissions from the Transport sector increased by 6.1% in 2021. This increase was largely driven by ending COVID travel restrictions on passenger car and public transport usage. By the end of 2021 there were 47,000 electric vehicles in Ireland, ahead of the Climate Action Plan trajectory. International aviation, not included in national total emissions, also increased by 11.6% in 2021.

Residential emissions decrease. Greenhouse gas emissions from the Residential sector decreased by 4.9%, driven by a combination of: reduced time in the home due to ending COVID restrictions, a milder winter, increased fuel prices and a possible stockpiling of heating oil from 2020. Coal, peat and kerosene sales declined by 4.6%, 5.0% and 11.8% whilst natural gas showed an increase of 0.9%.

For more information, see: