The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today said that emissions from Irish companies covered by the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) dropped from 17.36m tonnes in 2010 to 15.77m tonnes in 2011.
The EPA, which has just submitted its data to the EU Commission, said the reduction is largely due to a decline in emissions from the cement industry and from the power-generation sector.
Emissions from the cement industry apparently decreased by 12pc, while emissions from the power-generation area decreased by 11pc.
However, the Irish food and drink sector has had an increase of 1pc, reflecting how the sector is currently performing well.
According to the EPA’s Dr Maria Martin, the emission reduction is a reflection of both the impact of the current recession in terms of reduced energy and cement demand, and the increased availability of wind generation on the grid.
Decarbonising the energy sector
She said the continued development of both the renewable energy sector and energy efficiency policies would be crucial to further reducing power-generation emissions.
"The decarbonisation of the energy sector is essential to assist Ireland in meeting future greenhouse gas emissions obligations and moving us to a more sustainable low-carbon economy," said Martin.
The ETS covers more than 100 major industrial and institutional sites in Ireland. The companies centre around industries such as power generation, other combustion, cement, lime, glass and ceramic plants and oil refining. The scheme also covers large companies in areas such as food and drink, pharmaceuticals and semi-conductors.
The EU’s ETS itself was first launched in 2005. It now covers some 11,000 power stations and industrial plants in 30 countries. The scheme is based on the ‘cap and trade’ principle – ie, to cap or limit the amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted by such plants. Then, as part of this cap, such firms can receive emission allowances that they can sell to or buy from one another as they need them.
The ETS was also recently extended to the airline industry.
The EU has offered to increase its emissions reduction to 30pc by 2020. However, the European Commission said this reduction would only be based on condition that other major emitting countries in the developed and developing worlds commit to do their fair share under a future global climate agreement.