Dublin Airport revealed as Ireland’s largest polluter at COP27

10 Nov 2022

Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport. Image: DAA

A Climate Trace report released this week found that Dublin Airport emitted more than 1m tonnes in greenhouse gases last year.

Dublin Airport was Ireland’s most polluting facility in 2021 according to a global inventory of emissions data released at COP27.

With more than 70,000 sites included, the detailed Climate Trace emissions map launched in Egypt yesterday (9 November) shows how much individual facilities in countries around the world emitted in 2021 based on independent data.

The data was collected from measurements made by 300 EU, US and Chinese satellites as well as more than 11,000 land, air and sea-based sensors.

Dublin Airport, along with its flights, ranks as the highest Irish polluter from last year. The report claims the site emitted more than 1m tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

In a statement issued to SiliconRepublic.com, Andrea Carroll, head of environment sustainability at Dublin Airport Authority said:

“DAA, together with our aviation partners that operate from Dublin Airport, is absolutely committed to playing our part to help Ireland meet its carbon emissions reduction targets. As a commercial semi-state company, DAA has a firm target to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 51pc by 2030, in line with Government-set public sector targets.

“Additionally we are working towards a commitment to achieve net-zero emissions from our operations by 2050, or sooner. As a vital economic enabler, DAA has a clear sustainability strategy already in place to deliver key initiatives at Dublin Airport in terms of embracing new technologies, ensuring efficient aircraft operations and implementing smart environmental measures to play our part to reduce carbon emissions. We remain fully committed to this, and to working collaboratively with our industry partners to achieve Ireland’s carbon reduction targets, as we endeavour to address the climate action challenge together.”

There are also other sites across Ireland with significant emissions. The Drogheda cement plant in Co Louth emitted 983,500 tonnes of greenhouse gases last year, making it Ireland’s second-largest polluter. It was followed by the Ballyconnell cement plant in Co Cavan, which accounted for around 955,000 tonnes of emissions.

Oil and gas leading source of pollution

Emissions have been on the rise this year and the Environmental Protection Agency recently warned that “urgent” measures are needed for Ireland to meet its climate targets.

Earlier this week, Taoiseach Micheál Martin told global leaders at COP27 that words must be “urgently matched by deeds”, as he announced commitments to help vulnerable countries deal with the climate crisis.

“Climate change is fuelling conflict, global instability, competition for resources and abject human misery,” he said. “If this generation doesn’t step up urgently, future generations will not forgive us. As leaders, it is our responsibility to drive the transformation necessary.”

The Climate Trace inventory also shows that half of the 50 largest sources of emissions are oil and gas production fields and their associated facilities. The top 500 sources, which represent less than 1pc of the inventory, account for 14pc of global emissions.

Emissions from oil and gas, in particular, were found to be significantly underreported as this data suggests emissions are as much as three times higher than countries report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“The climate crisis can, at times, feel like an intractable challenge – in large part because we’ve had a limited understanding of precisely where emissions are coming from,” said former US vice-president and Climate Trace founding member Al Gore.

“This level of granularity means that we finally have emissions data that enable us to act decisively. It also means we can prioritise efforts to achieve the deep cuts in greenhouse gas pollution we need to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis.”

Updated, 5.37pm, 10 November 2022: This article was updated to include a statement from DAA.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic