Ireland’s rise in emissions was third highest in EU at the start of this year

18 Aug 2022

Image: © martin33/

Almost all EU countries saw a rise in emissions at the start of 2022 due to an economic rebound after the decline in activity during the pandemic.

Ireland has seen one of the highest increases in greenhouse gas emissions in the EU this year, according to new estimates from Eurostat.

The figures indicate Ireland’s emissions rose by 20pc in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2021. This is the third highest increase in the EU, behind Bulgaria at 38pc and Malta at 21pc.

Eurostat said overall greenhouse gas emissions across the EU rose compared to the first quarter of 2021, but remained just below pre-pandemic levels.

The increases across the EU were attributed to an economic rebound after the sharp decline in activity during the Covid-19 pandemic. Almost all EU member states had a reduction in emissions at the beginning of the pandemic.

The rise in Ireland’s emissions continues an upward trajectory from 2021. Figures released last month by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed Ireland’s emissions increased by nearly 5pc last year and rose above pre-Covid levels.

The EPA noted that the rise was largely due to the energy industries sector, which tripled its oil and gas use in electricity generation last year.

A graph showing various countries in the EU and their greenhouse gas emissions levels.

Greenhouse gas emissions growth in each EU country. Image: Eurostat

The only countries that registered a decrease in emissions between the first quarter of this year and last year are the Netherlands and Finland, with a 9pc and 1pc decrease respectively.

Greenhouse gas emissions increased in all sectors in the EU – except for households, which remained at the same level. The transportation and storage sector had the highest increase at 21pc, following by mining at 15pc and construction at 11pc.

The EPA recently warned that “urgent” measures are needed for Ireland to meet its climate targets, based on greenhouse gas emissions projections for the period 2021 to 2040.

Country president of Schneider Electric Ireland, Chris Collins, said it is “alarming” that Ireland’s emissions continue to rise despite the warnings and that there is a lot of “catching up to do” to hit our climate goals.

He added that energy efficiency is one of the “fastest-growing ways” to cut carbon emissions, and that measuring the Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions of Irish businesses is “a crucial place to start”.

The Irish Government recently announced sectoral emissions ceilings to drive an overall reduction of 51pc by 2030. Earlier this month, the country also joined the EU’s Integrated Carbon Observation System, a network that standardises emissions monitoring across Europe and currently has 15 countries involved.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic