EPA figures released today reveal that greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland fell by 5.4 million tonnes in 2009 to 62.32 million tonnes, mainly due to the recession.
Sectors that exhibited the highest reductions in emissions were:
- Industry and commercial sector: 2.3 million tonnes (20pc)
- Energy sector (primarily power generation): 1.6 million tonnes (10.7pc)
- Transport sector: 1.1 million tones (7.7pc).
Emissions from the cement sector alone decreased by 1.3 million tonnes (38pc).
The EPA said that while Ireland’s situation regarding compliance with the Kyoto Protocol will not be known until after the five-year (2008-2012) period is over. It estimates that after the first two years, the country is 6.2 million tonnes above target when the impact of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and approved Forest Sinks are taken into account.
Agriculture remains the single largest contributor to Ireland’s overall emissions, at 29.1pc of the total, followed by energy (primarily power generation) and transport, both at a 21.1pc share.
The remainder is comprised of industry and commercial at 14.8pc, the residential sector at 12pc and waste at 1.9pc.
Commenting on the figures, Dr Mary Kelly, director-general, EPA, said: “The magnitude of the reduction in Ireland’s annual greenhouse gas emissions in 2009 is unprecedented. In particular, the 20pc cut in emissions from the industry and commercial sector reflects the impact the severe economic recession is having on industrial output in Ireland.
“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,” she added.
Changes to sectoral emissions between 2008 and 2009
Emissions in 2009 were 1.6 million tonnes lower than in 2008 – a 10.7pc decrease. As well as reflecting a reduced demand for electricity from end users in Ireland, the contribution of renewables, such as wind in electricity consumption, increased to 14.1pc in 2009 from 11.7pc in 2008.
Transport emissions were 1.1 million tonnes lower in 2009 than in 2008 – a 7.7pc decrease. The decrease primarily reflects the impact of the economic downturn plus the changes in vehicle registration tax and road tax introduced in mid-2008, says the EPA.
Agriculture emissions decreased by 0.3 million tonnes (1.5pc) in 2009. The EPA says this decline in emissions primarily reflects lower sheep and swine numbers, as well as a reduction in gasoil use on farms.
Emissions in 2009 decreased by 699,111 tonnes (0.9pc) from the 2008 level.
Emissions for this sector decreased by 52,754 tonnes (4.2pc) below the 2008 level.