Positive Step: Decline in Ireland’s 2022, yet Significant Efforts Needed Ahead

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Ireland has released its provisional greenhouse gas emissions report for 2022, revealing an overall decrease of 1.9% compared to the previous year. The figures indicate positive strides in emission reduction across key sectors, except for the Transport sector.

Key Points:

  1. Overall Reduction: Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 1.9%, amounting to 60.76 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2eq) in 2022, excluding emissions from Land Use, Land Use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF).
  2. Sectoral Breakdown:
    • Power Generation: Emissions from power generation decreased by 1.9%, attributed to reduced coal, oil, and peat use, along with an increase in renewable energy.
    • Agriculture: Emissions in the agriculture sector decreased by 1.2%, primarily due to a reduction in fertilizer use, partially offset by an increase in livestock numbers.
    • Residential: A significant decrease of 12.7% in residential emissions was observed, driven by higher fuel prices, new regulations banning smoky fuel, and milder weather.
    • Transport: The Transport sector, however, experienced a 6% increase in emissions, reflecting the ongoing rebound from COVID-19 impacts.
  3. Emission Budget Challenges: The report highlights that 47% of Ireland’s Carbon Budget for 2021-2025 has been utilized in the first two years. Achieving the remaining annual reduction target of 12.4% poses a considerable challenge, emphasizing the need for accelerated efforts.
  4. EU Effort Sharing Regulation: Ireland exceeded its 2022 annual limit under the European Union’s Effort Sharing Regulation, with further reductions required as the commitment increases from a 30% reduction on the 2005 level by 2030 to a 42% reduction.
  5. Comments from EPA Director General: Laura Burke, Director General of EPA, acknowledged the positive impact of various actions but stressed the need for more significant progress. She urged faster implementation of national climate action plans to achieve the ambitious goal of a 51% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
  6. Sectoral Trends:
    • Energy Industries: Despite a 2.1% increase in overall electricity demand, emissions decreased by 1.8%, driven by reduced use of coal, oil, and peat in electricity generation.
    • Agriculture: Overall emissions decreased by 1.2%, with a notable 14% reduction in nitrogen fertilizer use offsetting the impact of increased dairy cow numbers.
    • Residential: A substantial 12.7% reduction in emissions was achieved, influenced by higher fuel prices, new regulations, and favorable weather conditions.
    • Transport: Emissions in the Transport sector increased by 6%, attributed to higher overall transport activity, including private cars and freight transport.
  7. Challenges and Recommendations: Mary Frances Rochford, Programme Manager at EPA, highlighted that current decarbonization actions are being outpaced by increased energy demand, emphasizing the need to break the link between economic growth and emissions.

In conclusion, while Ireland celebrates a reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions for 2022, the challenges ahead require urgent and intensified efforts across sectors to meet ambitious climate targets and contribute to a sustainable future. The full Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory 1990 to 2022 is available on the EPA website.

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