Environmental Indicators Ireland 2012

Comprehensive report containing 92 indicators about environmental data from various government departments and agencies. Indicators are divided into nine seperate domains covering air, greenhouse gas and climate change, water, land use, energy, transport, waste, biodiversity and heritage, and environmental economy.

Most of the indicators are presented in a time-series format for Ireland, while the international context is shown by comparing Ireland with other EU Member States for the latest year for which data are available.

Main findings


  • Air quality in Ireland has improved quite considerably over the last decade. By 2010, emissions for three of the four pollutants (sulphur dioxide, ammonia and non-methane volatile organic compounds) under the National Emission Ceiling (NEC) Directive were below their respective emissions ceilings. Emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) were 12% above the prescribed ceiling in 2010.
  • Benchmarking EU Member States 2010 emissions, in comparison with the NEC Directive targets, showed Ireland ranked 17th for sulphur dioxide, 22nd for nitrogen oxides, 19th for ammonia, and 12th in terms of NMVOC emissions.

 Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change

  • Greenhouse gas emissions fell substantially in 2009 and by 2010 Ireland was only slightly above the five years average limit set by the Kyoto Protocol.
  • Energy (22%), agriculture (30%), and transport (19%) accounted for just over 70% of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2010.
  • Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions on a per capita basis were the second highest in the EU in 2009.


  • Ireland ranked fourth among EU Member States (after Cyprus, Malta and Greece) in terms of compliance with bathing water quality guide values in 2010.
  • In 2010, 99.8% of public drinking water supplies in Ireland and 95.9% of group water supplies complied with E.coli standards.
  • 93% of urban waste water in Ireland received secondary treatment in 2009.

Land Use

  • In 2010, 10.7% of Ireland’s land was covered by forestry. This was the second lowest proportion of forest cover in the EU.
  • Although the area farmed organically increased by over 150% between 1997 and 2009, Ireland had the third lowest percentage of agricultural land designated as organic in the EU in 2009.
  • Ireland had the fifth largest cattle herd in the EU in 2010 with 6.8% of total cattle numbers.
  • House completions in Ireland peaked in 2006 with 93,400 completions and have since fallen to 10,500 in 2011. In 2010, there were 3.3 house completions per 1,000 population in Ireland.


  • Ireland’s primary energy requirement increased from 9.5 million tonnes of oil equivalent in 1990 to 16.5 million t.o.e. in 2008 but then decreased to 14.8 million in 2010.
  • Transport accounted for 40% of Ireland’s final energy consumption in 2010.
  • Renewable energy accounted for 2% of Ireland’s total final energy consumption in 2010.
  • Ireland had an imported energy dependency ratio of 89% in 2009, the fourth highest in the EU.


  • There has been a substantial increase in the number of low emission vehicles licensed since the introduction in 2008 of motor taxation rates based upon emissions. In 2011, 90% of new private vehicles licensed were in emission bands A and B.
  • There was a substantial fall in the number of air passengers travelling through Irish airports from 29.2 million in 2008 to 21.7 million in 2010.
  • The proportion of women aged 15 or over at work who drove to work increased from 27% in 1986 to 62% in 2006. In contrast the corresponding proportions for men were 42% in 1986 and 54% in 2006.
  • 14% of working women aged 15 or over walked to work in 2006 compared with 9% of working men aged 15 or over.


  • The amount of municipal waste generated fell from 800 kilograms per capita in 2006 to 620 kgs per capita in 2010.
  • Municipal waste sent to landfill was just below 1.5 million tonnes in 2010 which was an improvement on the two million tonnes in 2007.
  •  In 2008, there were 9 kgs per capita of electrical waste collected from Irish households, which is more than twice the 4 kgs specified in the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive.

Biodiversity and Heritage

  • Ireland had the smallest percentage of land in the EU designated as a Special Protected Area, under the EU Birds Directive, at only 3% of total land area in 2010.
  • Ireland at 11% had less land designated as a Special Protected Area under the EU Habitats Directive than the EU average of 14% in 2010.

Environmental Economy

  • Revenue from environmental related taxes fell by €660 million between 2007 and 2010.
  • The consumer price index for petrol and diesel increased by 13.5% and 16.5% respectively between December 2010 and December 2011.
  • In 2011, Ireland imported €6.8 billion of fuel


Central Statistics Office; Birdwatch Ireland; Coillte; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government; Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; DKM Economic Consultants; Environmental Protection Agency; Forest Service; Met Éireann; Office of Public Works; Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and University College Dublin