Irish power plant and industry emissions fell by 8.7pc in 2019

22 Apr 2020

Image: © jzehnder/

The EPA has welcomed news that some of Ireland’s biggest polluters have reduced emissions in 2019 for the third year running.

Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published findings on greenhouse gas emissions for 2019, showing a decrease in one of the biggest polluting sectors.

Emissions from power generation and industry fell by 1.3m tonnes last year, or a drop of 8.7pc compared with 2018. Across Europe, a decrease of 8.9pc was recorded.

The EPA pinpointed a 12.3pc drop in power generation emissions due to significant quantities of wind energy powering the national grid and less use of fossil fuels in our energy mix. Emissions decreased by 65pc from the ESB coal-fired plant at Moneypoint, again mainly due to the availability of renewables.

Decreases were also recorded in other industries such as dairy, which saw a 3pc reduction in emissions. This was followed by cement industries (2pc) and pharmachem (0.4pc).

The largest outlier in 2019 was the aviation industry, which saw an increase in emissions in Ireland of 2.8pc to 12.77m tonnes. However, this figure could change for 2020 as analysts predict a significant drop in aviation emissions while many aircraft remain grounded as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking of the latest findings, the EPA’s senior manager Dr Maria Martin said: “This is the third year in a row that we have seen a fall in greenhouse gas emissions from participants in the EU Emissions Trading System, mainly power generation and industry.

This reflects a positive move to lower use of fossil fuels in electricity generation and an increase in renewables.”

Ensuring that ‘climate resilience is built in’

However, Martin added that reductions in sectors outside of power generation have been “modest” and attributable to only a small number of players.

“We need to see consistent reductions in emissions across all sectors to reach our goal of a low-carbon economy,” she said.

Commenting on the findings, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton, TD said: “These results show that it is possible to break the link between economic progress and carbon emissions. Last year, the economy grew by 6pc but our electricity and major industrial emissions fell by 8.7pc.

“As we consider our future recovery, we must ensure that climate resilience is built in and that we leverage Ireland’s natural assets and invest in our renewable capacity, particularly offshore wind.”

A report from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland recently showed Ireland was ranked 27th out of 28 EU countries for progress towards the 2020 renewable energy targets. Based on 2018 figures, Bruton said that it did not take into account the Government’s Climate Action Plan launched last year.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic