In a somewhat rare moment of good news in the bid to curb climate change, Ireland posts the first greenhouse gas emission decrease in half a decade.
Ireland’s ability to make its agreed greenhouse gas emission target reduction by the end of the decade might prove incredibly difficult, but the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found a silver lining among some otherwise bad news.
According to recently released EU data, overall emissions of greenhouse gases from Irish power generation and industrial companies in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme decreased by 4.8pc in 2017 to 16.89 metric tonnes of CO2, the same level achieved in 2012.
This makes it the first overall decrease in emissions since 2013 across all of the 103 stationary facilities in Ireland, compared with an increase of approximately 0.3pc across Europe.
More specifically, emissions from Irish power stations were down 8.2pc, contributing the greatest share of the decrease. However, emissions from the cement sector as well as the food and drink industry rose by 2.1pc and 2.5pc, respectively.
The EPA’s programme manager, David Flynn, has attributed the decrease to a reduction in the use of carbon-intensive fossil fuels and a significant increase in renewable energy use.
He did, however, urge caution, given the increase seen in other sectors.
“Although it is positive to see reducing carbon intensity in electricity generation, other sectors recorded higher emission levels. It is important that investment in low-carbon technologies is made attractive for industry,” he said.
“A higher price for carbon will help to drive such investment. It is encouraging to see the carbon price is now above €10 per tonne following recent amendments to the Emissions Trading Scheme Directive for the period 2021 to 2030.”
Aviation emissions soar
While these figures only cover stationary greenhouse gas emissions, the 2017 figures showed Ireland’s carbon footprint has significantly increased when it comes to ‘mobile’ emitters, specifically the aviation sector.
The figures for 2017 show an 11pc increase on the year before and are based on flights in and out of Ireland, as well as flights anywhere within the European Economic Area where the aircraft carrier has an operating licence from the Irish Aviation Authority.