EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Projections show that Ireland has more to do to meet its 2030 targets

  • Ireland faces significant challenges in meeting EU 2030 reduction targets for Greenhouse Gases.  Progress in achieving targets is dependent on the level of implementation of current and future plans.
  • Agriculture emissions are projected to increase with an expansion of animal numbers.
  • Continued growth in emissions from the transport sector is projected in the short term, largely due to fuel consumption from diesel cars and diesel freight.
  • Fossil fuels such as coal, peat and gas continue to be key contributors to emissions from the power generation sector

The Environmental Protection Agency, as the competent authority for reporting Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions projections, has today published its updated Greenhouse Gas Projections for the period 2018-2040.  The figures continue to highlight a significant gap to meeting Ireland’s EU Effort Sharing targets, regarding 2020 and 2030 commitment periods.

Commenting on the figures Laura Burke, Director General, EPA said:

“Our projections show that, in the long-term, there is a projected decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, as a result of climate mitigation policies and measures in the National Development Plan. However, to meet its EU targets for 2030 and achieve National policy ambitions, Ireland will need full implementation of those measures, plus additional measures in future plans.”

At a sectoral level, emissions from agriculture are projected to increase steadily over the projected period which is mainly because of projected increases in animal numbers, particularly for the dairy herd.  Implementation of potential greenhouse gas mitigation measures identified by Teagasc research, but not included in the projections will be important for the sector.

Growth in emissions from the transport sector continues to be projected until at least 2022, even with relatively high fuel prices and electric vehicle uptake as proposed in the National Development Plan. Should fuel prices remain at a relatively low level for an extended time then transport emissions could continue to increase steadily until 2030.

The EPA’s projections highlight the sensitivity of Ireland’s energy demand, and consequently emissions, to future fuel prices and the threat this could pose to achieving Ireland’s climate change mitigation ambition. This is particularly evident in transport emissions, but also a factor for all energy consuming sectors. The projections highlight the emissions reductions achievable by ending coal fired power generation and moving to higher levels of renewable penetration as proposed in the National Development Plan.

See full details in the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Projections 2018 to 2040 report.

EU greenhouse gas emission targets and reduction obligations for Ireland are split into two broad categories.  The first category covers the large energy and power (i.e. energy intensive) industry which have their emissions controlled under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.  The second category (and the main subject of this press release) deals with the non-Emissions Trading Scheme sectors such as agriculture, transport, residential, commercial, waste and non-energy intensive industry.
The Environmental Protection Agency is the competent authority responsible for producing greenhouse gas emission projections on an annual basis for all sectors of the economy in collaboration with relevant State and other bodies. The following are key underlying data that underpin this year’s greenhouse gas emission projections:

  • The energy projections are underpinned by macroeconomic projections supplied by the Economic and Social Research Institute.
  • Agriculture emission projections are based on data from Teagasc which were provided to the Environmental Protection Agency in April 2018. Projections are based on an analysis undertaken by Teagasc of the projected national herd population, crop areas and fertiliser use which considers the impact of Food Wise 2025 for the agriculture sector.
  • Energy-related emission projections are based on updated projections provided to the Environmental Protection Agency by Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland in Q1 2019.

The EU’s Effort Sharing Decision (Decision No 406/2009/EC) sets targets for the non-Emissions Trading Scheme sector for EU Member States including Ireland for 2020. Ireland’s 2020 target is to achieve a 20% reduction of non-Emissions Trading Scheme sector emissions on 2005 levels with annual binding limits set for each year over the period 2013-2020.

On 14th May 2018, the European Council adopted a regulation on greenhouse gas emission reductions. The regulation sets out binding emission reduction targets for member states in sectors falling outside the scope of the EU emissions trading system for the period 2021-2030.  The Regulation (Effort Sharing Regulation) maintains existing flexibilities under the current Effort Sharing Decision (e.g. banking, borrowing and buying and selling between Member States) and provides two new flexibilities to allow for a fair and cost-efficient achievement of the targets:

  1. New flexibilities under the Effort Sharing Regulation include the allowance by eligible Member States to achieve their national targets by covering some emissions with EU ETS allowances which would normally have been auctioned. EU-wide, this cannot be more than a combined (EU-wide) total of 100 million tonnes CO2 over the period 2021-2030. The ETS flexibility allows Ireland to transfer emissions of up to 4% of 2005 levels per annum from the non-ETS to ETS sector, reducing the mitigation requirement in the non-ETS sector while cancelling the corresponding ETS allowances.
  2. Also, to stimulate additional action in the land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector, Member States can use up to a combined (EU-wide) total of 280 million credits over the entire period 2021-2030 to comply with their national targets. All Member States are eligible to make use of this flexibility if needed for achieving their target, while access is higher for Member States with a larger share of emissions from agriculture. This recognises that there is a lower mitigation potential for emissions from the agriculture sector. The LULUCF flexibility allows for Ireland to account for greenhouse gas removals of up to 26.8Mt CO2eq over the compliance period.

Greenhouse gas emissions are projected to the year 2040 using two scenarios:

  • The With Existing Measures scenario assumes that no additional policies and measures, beyond those already in place by the end of 2017, are implemented.
  • The With Additional Measures scenario assumes implementation of the With Measures scenario in addition to, based on current progress, further implementation of Government renewable and energy efficiency policies and measures including those set out in the National Development Plan (NDP). Measures to be announced in the upcoming All of Government Climate plan are not yet known and thus not included.

An overview of total projected emissions by sectors (which include ETS and non-ETS emissions) under the With Additional Measures is presented in Table 1 and Figure 1.

Table 1. Projected greenhouse gas emissions to 2030 under the With Additional Measures Scenario

Mt CO2 eq2017202020252030Growth 2018-2030
Agriculture20.21 20.32 20.66 20.853.2%
Transport12.00 12.68 12.4811.86 -1.2%
Energy Industries11.74 11.95 13.66 8.62-26.5%
Residential5.74 6.42 5.66 4.55-20.7%
Manufacturing Combustion4.66 3.86 3.70 3.44-26.2%
Industrial Processes2.232.39  2.67 3.0134.6%
Commercial and Public Services1.97 1.31 1.15 0.97-50.9%
F-Gases1.23 0.98 0.90 0.78-35.9%
Waste0.93  0.58 0.49 0.44-52.2%
Total60.74 60.53 61.43 54.55-10.2%

Figure 1. Projected sectoral share of total greenhouse gas emissions (includng ETS and non ETS emissions) in 2030 in the With Additional Measures scenario

Units: 1 Mt = 1,000 kilotonnes
CO2 Equivalent: greenhouse gases other than CO2 (i.e. methane, nitrous oxide and so-called F-gases) may be converted to CO2 equivalent using their global warming potentials.  
F-gases: These gases comprise HFCs (Hydrofluorocarbons), PFCs (Perfluorocarbons), SF6 (Sulphur Hexafluoride) and NF3 (Nitrogen Trifluoride).  They are much more potent than the naturally occurring greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide).
Ireland’s GHG Sectors:  include the following nine sectors for analysis;

  1. Energy Industries (electricity generation, waste to energy incineration, oil refining, briquetting manufacture and fugitive emissions)
  2. Residential (combustion for domestic space and hot water heating)
  3. Manufacturing Combustion (combustion for Manufacturing industries)
  4. Commercial and Public Services (combustion for Commercial and Public Services space and hot water heating)
  5. Transport (combustion of fuel used in road, rail, navigation, domestic aviation and pipeline gas transport)
  6. Industrial Processes (process emissions from mineral, chemical, metal industries, non-energy products and solvents)
  7. F-Gases (gases used in refrigeration, air conditioning and semiconductor manufacture)
  8. Agriculture (emissions from fertiliser application, ruminant digestion, manure management, agricultural soils and fuel used in agriculture/forestry/fishing)
  9. Waste (emissions from solid waste disposal on land, solid waste treatment (composting), wastewater treatment, waste incineration and open burning of waste).

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