Ireland will not meet its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets - action is needed now to meet 2030 EU targets


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published its Greenhouse Gas emissions projections for the period 2020-2040.

They show Ireland is projected to have exceeded its 2013-2020 EU Effort Sharing Decision target by 12.2 Mt CO₂ eq, but that it can meet its current EU 2021-2030 target with full implementation of the measures in the 2019 Climate Action Plan. This would result in a 2% per annum emissions reduction pathway from 2021 to 2030.

Laura Burke, Director General, EPA said: “These projections show that the next decade needs to be one of major developments and advances in relation to Ireland’s response to climate change. Full implementation of all current policies and plans by all sectors would reduce Irelands greenhouse gas emissions by 2 per cent per year, which is the minimum needed to meet our current 2030 EU targets.”

Ms Burke added: “However, for Ireland to meet the more ambitious targets as presented in the European Climate Law and Ireland's Climate Bill, and to transform to a climate resilient, biodiversity rich and climate neutral economy by 2050, there needs to be a significant and immediate increase in the scale and pace of greenhouse gas emission reductions. A ‘green recovery’ will give Ireland an opportunity to rebuild our economy and generate new jobs while responding to this challenge.”

The projections show the impact of Covid-19 lockdown on emissions for 2020 and 2021 as a result of a dramatic decline in economic activity and travel in the short term. To avoid a surge in emissions as the economy recovers, as a minimum the full range of actions already committed to must be implemented without delay. These measures are projected to contribute to emissions savings of 58 Mt CO₂ eq. by 2030 when compared to existing measures.

These include:

  • Agriculture
    A reduction of at least 16.5 Mt CO₂ eq. between 2021 and 2030 is achievable by accelerated uptake of measures such as low emissions slurry spreading techniques and switching to stabilised urea fertilisers for crops and pasture.

  • Transport
    Almost 1 million electric vehicles on our roads by 2030, including 840,000 passenger EVs and 95,000 electric vans and trucks, will help achieve a projected additional emission saving from the sector of 13.2 Mt CO₂ eq over the period 2021 to 2030.

  • Energy
    Renewable energy providing 70% of electricity generated is projected to lead to a 25% reduction in Energy Industries emissions by 2030 requiring both on and off-shore wind energy projects.

  • Home Heating
    The installation of 600,000 heat pumps and the retrofitting of 500,000 homes for improved energy efficiency by 2030 is projected to reduce the energy used for space and water heating in our homes by 44% by 2030. This will make our homes healthier and more comfortable places to live.

Stephen Treacy, Senior Manager, EPA said: “Ireland needs to improve on its past record of performance in the implementation of climate policies and measures. As far back as 2015 EPA projections indicated that 2020 EU targets could be met with the implementation of identified measures. Faster than anticipated emissions growth from key sectors and slow implementation of measures resulted in the target being missed by a wide margin.”

See full detail on the Greenhouse Gas Emission Projections 2020 to 2040 on the EPA website and EPA Greenhouse Gas web resource.