Ireland joins EU network for emissions monitoring

8 Aug 2022

Image: © blacksalmon/

The EPA will lead Ireland’s engagement with the network, which now numbers 15 countries.

Ireland has joined the EU’s Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS), which standardises emissions monitoring across Europe.

ICOS is a network of greenhouse gas measurement sites now spanning 15 countries in Europe. Each site produces high-precision long-term measurements of greenhouse gases, deepening our understanding of both the sources of emissions and the effectiveness of so-called ‘carbon sinks’ in forests, soils and seas.

Ireland’s membership of the ICOS network should improve the quality of our scientific climate measurements and help to better manage the country’s emissions budgets.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will coordinate and manage Ireland’s engagement with the network.

A network of observation sites in Ireland collect data on greenhouse gases from key systems such as grasslands, peatlands, forests and coastal areas. These are operated by a range of State bodies including Teagasc, Met Éireann, the Marine Institute and the National Parks and Wildlife Service as well as the EPA. Data from these sites is complemented by observations from the EU’s Copernicus satellite system.

In joining ICOS, Ireland will be expected to apply internationally standardised monitoring protocols at its measurement sites and align observations with those from other EU countries.

The EPA will work closely with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in establishing and maintaining ICOS in Ireland.

Minister for the Environment and Climate Eamon Ryan, TD, welcomed the move. “It is essential that climate observations carried out in Ireland are of high quality and are comparable with data from observations being carried out across Europe and globally,” he said.

“Membership of ICOS will enable this, as well as promoting the sharing of scientific understanding and expertise which is vital to develop our knowledge and deepen our understanding of greenhouse gas emissions and removals. ICOS will also provide access to, and use of, international calibration standards, analysis methods, operational protocols and expert fora.”

The Irish Government recently announced sectoral emissions ceilings to drive an overall reduction of 51pc by 2030. Much focus was directed at the agricultural sector, which has been set a target of a 25pc reduction in emissions by 2030. Taking the action needed to reach this target will be voluntary, but incentivised.

The Government’s announcement came one week after the EPA warned that Ireland’s emissions have surpassed pre-Covid levels.

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.