Irish transport emissions rising despite electric vehicle growth

14 Jul 2023

Image: © Nady/

A provisional EPA report claims transport emissions grew by 6pc last year, while overall emissions dropped by less than 2pc.

Ireland managed to reduce its overall emissions by a small amount last year, but the transport sector saw increased activity.

That’s according to a provisional report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which claims Irish greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 1.9pc last year compared to emissions in 2021.

However, the transport sector saw emissions rise by 6pc compared to 2021. The EPA said an overall increase in transport activity eroded the rise of electric vehicle sales.

The report suggests that Ireland has managed to make some minor reductions in multiple sectors, with the residential sector having the largest emissions drop by far at 12.7pc. The EPA said the main factors for this sector’s reduction were a large rise in fossil fuel prices, warmer weather and regulations that prevented the burning of “smoky fuel”.

Despite a 2.1pc increase in electricity demand, the energy sector reduced its emissions by 1.8pc last year thanks to reductions in the use of coal, oil and peat. Those reductions were “largely offset” by the use of gas energy however, which increased by 12.6pc and reached its highest usage since 2010.

Agriculture saw emissions drop by 1.2pc, along with a 14pc reduction in the use of nitrogen fertiliser. The EPA said the reduction managed to offset the impact of rising dairy cow numbers, which grew for its 12th consecutive year.

This sector was responsible for 37.5pc of Ireland’s total emissions in 2021, the same year that the energy sector tripled its use of oil and gas, according to an earlier EPA report.

EPA director general Laura Burke said the latest results were “welcome” but noted that the emissions decrease needs to be “significantly ramped up”.

“We need faster progress on the actions set out in national climate action plans to decarbonise and transform all sectors of Ireland’s economy, to stay within national carbon budgets and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 51 per cent by 2030,” Burke said.

The report claims that 47pc of Ireland’s carbon budget for 2021 to 2025 has been used in the first two years. The EPA also claimed that an “extremely challenging” annual reduction of 12.4pc is required for each of the remaining years if Ireland is to stay within this budget.

Last month, the EPA warned that even if Ireland’s current policies are fully implemented, the country looks set to only reduce emissions by up to 29pc by 2030.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic