Ireland’s emissions were at a three-decade low last year

9 Jul 2024

Image: © Romio Shots/Stock.adobe.com

Even as Ireland remains ‘well off track’ in terms of meeting national and EU climate targets, fresh EPA figures show signs of promise.

In what is a glimmer of hope amid the dark ominous clouds of climate news lately, greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland were at their lowest level last year in more than three decades, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Provisional data published by the agency today (9 July) shows a 6.8pc emissions reduction compared to 2022, with falls in almost every sector.

EPA director general Laura Burke said that the latest figures are a result of the “largest reduction in emissions outside of recession” and signal the impact of climate action and decarbonisation measures across Ireland’s economy and society.

“We see the impact of more renewables and interconnection powering electricity, less fossil fuel use in home heating, reduced nitrogen fertiliser use in agriculture and more biofuel in transport. The data indicates a move towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the scale and pace required to meet our climate ambition of a 51pc reduction by 2030,” Burke said.

However, she cautioned that while the results for 2023 are positive, Ireland is still “well off track” in terms of meeting EU and national 2030 targets. “We need to maintain and further build momentum,” Burke added.

A recent report from the EPA found that Ireland could reduce its emissions by up to 29pc by 2030 compared to 2018 if all the country’s planned climate policies and measures are implemented.

This would represent an annual reduction of 4pc each year between 2023 and 2030, but the result would be significantly shorter than Ireland’s ambition to reduce emissions by 51pc.

“This is well short of both our European and national emission reduction targets and highlights the scale of effort required to achieve the required reductions across all sectors of our economy,” Burke said in May. “The key priority must be to translate the aspiration in our policies and plans to implementation on the ground.”

While the latest EPA figures show a reduction in emissions from across energy industries, agriculture and residential sources, there was a marginal increase in emissions from transport of 0.3pc compared to 2022. However, emissions from transport are now 4.3pc below pre-Covid-19 levels in 2019.

The news comes in the context of an escalating climate crisis, as June was the 13th month in a row to break temperature records.

A study published last week showed that Ireland’s likelihood of experiencing extreme summer temperatures and heatwaves has risen due to the climate crisis.

Conducted by Maynooth University researchers, the study estimated that the chances of reaching a temperature of more than 34 degrees Celsius – a value not yet recorded in Ireland – changed from a 1 in 1,600-year event to a 1 in 28-year event between 1942 and 2020.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com