Ireland is projected to exceed its National and EU climate targets

  • Ireland is projected to achieve a reduction of up to 29 per cent in total greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to a target of 51 per cent, when the impact of the majority of actions outlined in Climate Action Plan 2024 is included.
  • To achieve a reduction of 29 per cent would require full implementation of a wide range of policies and plans across all sectors and for these to deliver the anticipated carbon savings.
  • Almost all sectors are on a trajectory to exceed their national sectoral emissions ceilings for 2025 and 2030, including Agriculture, Electricity and Transport.
  • The first two carbon budgets (2021-2030) will not be met, and by a significant margin of between 17 and 27 per cent.
  • Ireland will not meet its EU Effort Sharing Regulation target of 42 per cent reduction by 2030.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published its greenhouse gas emissions projections for the period 2023-2050.

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 2023 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 17 and 27 per cent.

All sectors, except Residential buildings, are projected to underperform relative to the sectoral emissions ceilings. Agriculture, Industry and Electricity sectors are projected to be the furthest from their sectoral ceiling in 2030.

Laura Burke, Director General, EPA said:

“The EPA’s projections show that full delivery of all climate action plans and policies could deliver a 29 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This is well short of both our European and National emission reduction targets and highlights the scale of effort required to achieve the required reductions across all sectors of our economy. The key priority must be to translate the aspiration in our policies and plans to implementation on the ground.”

Ms Burke added:

“The transition to a low carbon society is building momentum in Ireland. We see this with more electric vehicles on our roads, renewable electricity powering our homes and adoption of new farm practices. However, we need to speed up and scale up the transition”


Total emissions from the Agriculture sector are projected to decrease by between 1 and 18 per cent over the period 2022 to 2030. Savings are projected from a variety of measures including limits on nitrogen fertiliser usage, switching to different fertilisers and bovine feed additives. The higher ambition scenario assumes that most of the measures outlined in Climate Action Plan 2024, AgClimatise and Teagasc (MACC) are in place.


Emissions from the sector are projected to reduce by 26 per cent over the period 2022 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.


Driven by a reduction in fossil fuel usage and increased net importation of electricity from interconnectors, there was a marked drop of almost 24 per cent in emissions from electricity generation between 2022 and 2023.  In combination with planned increases in renewable energy generation from wind and solar, energy sector emissions are projected to reduce by 62 per cent and achieve over 80 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2030.

Land use

Emissions from this sector are projected to increase between 23 per cent to 99 per cent over the period of 2023 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.

Commenting, Mary Frances Rochford, Programme Manager said:

“The EPA projections show the importance of accelerating the delivery of renewable technologies to support decarbonised electrification across the economy, adopting known emission reduction technologies while new solutions are developed in agriculture, providing alternatives to car and freight transport, and taking action to reduce emissions from land to reduce Ireland’s emissions. Increasing the pace of implementation will deliver the required emission reductions and create space for adoption of further policies and measures.”

For further detail on these figures, see the EPA report Greenhouse Gas Emission Projections 2023 to 2050 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, 2024.

It is an obligation under the Climate Act that, where the total greenhouse gas emissions for a preceding budget period exceed the carbon budget for that period, the excess greenhouse gas emissions from the preceding budget period is carried forward to the next period. The carbon budget for the next period is then decreased by the amount carried forward.

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 current Climate Action Plan 2024 and previous Plans are included in the projections with a number of exceptions including:

  • Onshore wind of 7.2 GW, offshore wind of 3.5 GW and 6 GW of solar PV was required to achieve 80 per cent share of renewable electricity by 2030. This compares with 9 GW onshore wind, 5 GW offshore wind and 8 GW of solar PV stated for the 80 per cent target in the Climate Action Plan 2024;
  • The full 2GW target for new flexible gas fired generation is not modelled. However, Eirgrid data was used to produce an adjusted trajectory yielding new gas fired generation of 1.4 GW by 2030;
  • 2 GW offshore wind for green hydrogen use in Industry post-2030 is currently not modelled;
  • Climate Action Plan 2024 has an Avoid/Shift policy with multiple measures to achieve an abatement of 2.09 Mt CO2 eq by 2030 in transport, one of these modelled measures relating to price increases in petrol and diesel out to 2030 has no supporting policy and is not modelled;
  • Measures aimed at achieving emissions savings from a decrease in embodied carbon in construction materials (1.0 Mt CO2 abatement by 2030) aren’t currently modelled;
  • The full target for 70-75 per cent share of carbon neutral heating in Industry is not currently modelled;
  • Emissions reductions associated with Carbon Capture and Storage are not currently modelled;
  • The Climate Action Plan 2024 target of a 70-75 per cent share in renewable heat in industry is not specifically modelled. Instead, the current funding rate has been extended to 2050. These funds now include Large Energy Users and Emission Trading Scheme industries from 2025;
  • 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 2024 are not modelled.

New scientific research has led to a reduction in emissions from the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector which by 2030, with full implementation of planned measures, is projected to be 10 per cent of total national emissions compared to the 17 per cent reported last year.

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 2024.
  • 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 2023 and February 2024.

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 per cent by 2030.

Annual emission limits out to 2025 for the 42 per cent reduction were set by the EU in 2023, with limits out to 2030 to be set later in 2024. 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. The ETS flexibility allows Ireland to transfer emissions of up to 4 per cent of 2005 levels per annum, or 19.1 Mt CO2 eq from the non-ETS to ETS sector, reducing the mitigation requirement in the non-ETS sector while cancelling the corresponding ETS allowances.

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 262 million credits over the entire period 2021-2030 to comply with their national targets. The LULUCF flexibility allows for Ireland to account for greenhouse gas removals of up to 26.8 Mt CO2 eq over two compliance periods 2021-2025 and 2026-2030.

Scenarios Used

Greenhouse gas emissions are projected to the year 2050 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, where 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 2024. 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.

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