Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Down Due to Recession

Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas emissions fell by 5.4 million tonnes (7.9%) in 2009, according to provisional Greenhouse Gas emissions figures just released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Agriculture remains the single largest contributor to the overall emissions, at 29.1% of the total, followed by energy (primarily power generation) and transport both at 21.1% share. The remainder is made up by the industry and commercial at 14.8%, the residential sector at 12.0% and waste at 1.9%.

The figures show that, while Ireland’s Kyoto limit in the period 2008-2012 is 62.84 million tonnes per annum, Ireland’s combined emissions in 2008 and 2009 were 6.2 million tonnes above this limit when account is taken of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and of approved Forest Sinks.

Dr Mary Kelly, director general of EPA.

”The magnitude of the reduction in Ireland’s annual Greenhouse Gas emissions in 2009 is unprecedented. In particular the 20% cut in emissions from the industry and commercial sector reflects the impact which the severe economic recession is having on industrial output in Ireland,” comments Dr Mary Kelly, director general of EPA.

“While the reduction is welcome in terms of meeting our emission limits for 2008-2012 under the Kyoto Protocol, we need to use this opportunity to embed fundamental emission reductions in the economy in order to meet the very stringent EU 2020 limits which we face and to move permanently to a low carbon economy. We should not rely on a recession to meet our targets for the future.”

Dr Ken Macken, programme manager, EPA, adds: “For the first time in the twenty years for which Greenhouse Gas emissions have been published, this year EPA is reporting reductions in every sector across the board. While some of these reflect the impact of the many improvements which have already been taken to reduce our emissions, it is important to ensure further measures are taken in order to meet our emission limits for 2020 and beyond.”

The provisional summary report of Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions for 2009 can be found on the EPA Website at

Sectoral Changes

Changes to sectoral emissions between 2008 and 2009 are as follows:
Industry and Commercial – Emissions decreased by 2.3 million tonnes (20.0%) from 11.6 million tonnes in 2008 to 9.3 million tonnes in 2009 reflecting decreases in CO2 from combustion sources and from cement production. In particular, emissions from the cement sector alone decreased by 1.3 million tonnes (38%).

Energy – Emissions in 2009 were 1.6 million tonnes lower than in 2008 which represents a 10.7% decrease. This reflects a reduced demand for electricity from end-users in Ireland. In addition, the contribution of renewables such as wind in electricity consumption increased to 14.1% in 2009 from 11.7% in 2008. Carbon-intensive fuels in power generation decreased in 2009 relative to 2008.

Transport emissions were 1.1 million tonnes lower in 2009 than in 2008.

Transport – Transport emissions were 1.1 million tonnes lower in 2009 than in 2008. This represents a decrease of 7.7%, following sustained increases in this sector since 1990. The decrease primarily reflects the impact of the economic downturn plus the changes in vehicle registration tax and road tax introduced in mid 2008. Emissions in 2009 were 156% higher than the 1990 transport emissions.

Agriculture – The emissions from agriculture decreased by 0.3 million tonnes (1.5%) in 2009, continuing the downward trend from the 1998 peak. The decline in emissions primarily reflects lower sheep and swine numbers as well as a reduction in gas oil use on farms.

Residential – Emissions in 2009 decreased by 699,111 tonnes (0.9%) from the 2008 level. This reflects a slight reduced demand for energy from the residential sector despite 2009 being similar weather wise to 2008.

Waste – Emissions for this sector show a decrease of 52,754 tonnes (4.2%) below the 2008 level which reflects increased methane flaring relative to 2008. Emissions in 2009 are 7.8 % lower than in 1990. The EPA continues to take account of data received from operators on the proportion of methane that is flared and utilised and therefore excluded from emissions reported under the waste sector.

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