Ireland projected to fall well short of climate targets, says EPA

EPA Projections indicate that:

  • Ireland will achieve a reduction of 29 per cent in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 compared to a target of 51 per cent.
  • Almost all sectors are on a trajectory to exceed their national sectoral emissions ceilings for 2025 and 2030, including Agriculture, Electricity Transport and Industry.
  • The first two carbon budgets (2021-2030) will not be met, and by a significant margin.
  • Reaching the 2030 target requires implementing policies that deliver emission reductions across all sectors in the short term.
  • Ireland needs to fully implement the actions in the 2023 Climate Action Plan that have been defined; firm up the actions that currently don’t have associated policies and measures, such as diversification in agriculture; and identify and implement further policies and measures.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions projections for the period 2022-2040. 
EPA analysis shows that planned climate policies and measures, if fully implemented, could deliver up to 29 per cent emissions reduction by 2030 compared to 2018, a reduction of 4 per cent each year from 2022 to 2030. This is insufficient to achieve the ambition of 51 per cent emissions reduction in Ireland’s Climate Act.
The first two carbon budgets (2021-2030), which aim to support achievement of the 51 per cent emissions reduction goal, are projected to be exceeded by a significant margin of between 24 and 34 per cent. 
All sectors, except Residential buildings, are projected to underperform relative to the sectoral emissions ceilings. Agriculture, Electricity, Transport and Industry sectors are projected to be the furthest from their sectoral ceiling in 2030.
Laura Burke, Director General, EPA said: 
“Ireland will miss its 2030 climate targets unless all sectors of the economy deliver emission reductions in the short term and sustain this delivery into the future. We’re in the third year of the first Carbon Budget period, with only seven more years left to 2030. A continued lack of delivery of large-scale practical actions to decarbonise activities in all sectors will see us exceed our carbon budgets. 
Importantly, in preparing these projections, it was not possible for the EPA to include all actions in Climate Action Plan 2023 – such as diversification of agriculture and decarbonisation of construction materials – more detail is needed on the how and the when of the delivery of these actions.”
Ms Burke added:
“Ireland needs to grasp the nettle of climate action so it can realise the significant opportunities and social and economic co-benefits for people, communities and business that can be delivered through innovation and decarbonisation. “

The impact of measures on a sectoral basis include:
Total emissions from the Agriculture sector are projected to decrease by between 4 and 20 per cent over the period 2021 to 2030. Savings are projected from a variety of measures including switching to different fertilisers, limits on nitrogen fertiliser usage and bovine feed additives. The higher ambition scenario assumes that most of the measures outlined in Climate Action Plan 2023, AgClimatise and Teagasc (MACC) are in place.

TransportEmissions from the sector are projected to reduce by 35 per cent over the period 2021 to 2030 if the measures set out in plans and policies are implemented. These include over 940,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030, increased biofuel blend rates and measures to support more sustainable transport. Road freight is projected to be the biggest source of road transport greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. 
EnergyContinued dependency on coal use as a result of unavailability of sufficient gas-fired generation, recent geopolitical events and the slow implementation of renewable electricity targets has undone some of the good work of recent years. This could negatively impact achievement of National targets, particularly for the first carbon budget period. Despite this, increased renewable energy generation, from wind and solar, if delivered as planned, can reduce Energy Industry emissions by 60 per cent and achieve over 80 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2030.

IndustryManufacturing combustion emissions are projected to reduce by between 6 and 22 per cent from 2021 to 2030 with the implementation of efficiency measures and renewable heat generation. However Industrial Process emissions are projected to increase by 5 per cent from 2021 to 2030 due to anticipated increased cement production.
Land useEmissions from the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector are projected to increase over the period 2021 to 2030 as our forestry reaches harvesting age and changes from a carbon sink to a carbon source.  Planned policies and measures for the sector, such as increased afforestation, water table management on agricultural organic soils and peatland rehabilitation, are projected to reduce the extent of the emissions increase.

BuildingsEmissions from the Residential sector are projected to decrease by 36 to 47 per cent between 2021 and 2030 with Commercial and Public Services sector emissions projected to decrease by 19 to 49 per cent. Measures projected to achieve this include biomethane used for heating, energy efficiency retrofits and the installation of heat pumps in residential homes.

Commenting, Stephen Treacy, EPA Senior Manager, said:“These projections show that strong economic growth and associated energy demand are eroding the increased ambition in the 2023 Climate Action Plan. This underlines the urgency of moving to an economy and society powered by renewable energy sources. The longer we wait, the longer it will be before we realise the benefits as the time horizon for achievement of national and EU commitments is getting ever shorter.”
See full detail on the Greenhouse Gas Emission Projections 2022 to 2040 and EPA Greenhouse Gas web resource on the EPA website.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the national body with responsibility to develop, prepare and publish projections of greenhouse gas emissions for Ireland. The EPA produces national greenhouse gas emission projections on an annual basis. These projections are compiled in accordance with and to meet EU reporting obligations. At a national level this report informs policy and monitors and reports Ireland’s climate action performance to Government under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act (Amendment) 2021 and to the public as outlined in the Climate Action Plan, 2023.

The EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Emission projection is an estimate of what emission levels are likely to be in the future. They are based on key assumptions such as economic growth, fuel prices and Government policy.
This is the second set of projections prepared following the enactment of the Climate Act and the 51 per cent target contained therein. The policies and measures contained in the Climate Action Plan 2023 are included in the projections with a number of exceptions including:  

  • Onshore Wind of 7.8 GW in 2030 and 6 GW of Solar PV are modelled, rather than the maximum 9 GW onshore wind and 8 GW of Solar PV from Climate Action Plan 2023 (note the Climate Action Plan 2023 target of 80% share from renewable electricity is achieved with these targets); 
  • The full 2 GW offshore wind for green hydrogen use in Industry post-2030 (1.2 GW is currently included;
  • Measures aimed at achieving emissions savings from a decrease in embodied carbon in construction materials aren’t currently modelled;
  • The full target for 70-75% share of carbon neutral heating in Industry is not currently modelled;
  • Emissions reductions associated with Carbon Capture and Storage are not currently modelled;
  • 60-70% Share of Carbon Neutral Heating in total fuel demand is not modelled;
  • Diversification measures in Agriculture with annual savings by 2030 of 1.5 Mt CO2 eq is not currently modelled;
  • Unallocated savings of 5.25 Mt CO2 eq per annum 2026-2030 (or 26.25 Mt CO2 eq cumulatively by 2030) as stated in the Climate Action Plan 2023 are not modelled. 

EU Targets 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 are controlled under the EU Emissions Trading System.  The second category deals with the non- EU Emissions Trading System sectors such as agriculture, transport, residential, commercial, waste and non-energy intensive industry. 
The Environmental Protection Agency produces greenhouse gas emissions 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 emissions projections: 

  • Energy-related emissions projections are based on updated energy projections provided to the Environmental Protection Agency by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland in Q1 2023. 
  • The energy projections were prepared in conjunction with the Economic and Social Research Institute who produced energy demand projections using the I3E model (Ireland Environment, Energy and Economy model). 
  • Agriculture emissions projections are based on data from Teagasc which was provided to the Environmental Protection Agency in December 2022 and February 2023. 

On 14th May 2018, the European Council adopted a regulation (EU 2018/842 – the Effort Sharing 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. In April 2023 the Effort Sharing Regulation was amended (EU 2023/857) and Ireland’s new 2030 target under the Effort Sharing Regulation is to limit its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 42% by 2030. 
New binding annual emission limits for 2023 to 2030 for the 42% reduction will be set by the EU later in 2023.  Under the Effort Sharing Regulation two flexibilities may be utilised to allow for a fair and cost-efficient achievement of the target. These flexibilities are the use of EU Emissions Trading System allowances and credit from action undertaken in the Land use, Land use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector.
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 total of 100 million tonnes CO2 over the period 2021-2030. 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 to achieve 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. 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.

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

  • The With Existing Measures (WEM) scenario is a projection of future emissions based on the measures currently implemented and actions committed to by Government. To become part of the WEM scenario a policy or measure must be in place by the end of 2021 (the latest inventory year) and the projected emissions reduction is commensurate with the resources or legislation already in place or committed to Government Departments or Agencies. For example, the WEM scenario includes a measure where the carbon tax increases annually and reaches €100 per tonne by 2030. This policy is considered to be implemented because annual carbon tax increases have been committed to in legislation (Finance Act 2020).
  • The With Additional Measures (WAM) scenario is the projection of future emissions based on the measures outlined in the latest Government plans at the time Projections are compiled. This includes all policies and measures included in the WEM scenario, plus those included in Government plans but not yet implemented. For example, the WAM scenario includes the target of 945,000 Electric Vehicles on the road by 2030 in the Climate Action Plan 2023. The full amount of this ambition is not currently in the With Existing Measures scenario as actions still remain to be taken that would deliver it. 

Comments are closed.