Climate change mitigation - Drivers and pressures (Ireland)

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This contribution describes the related key drivers and pressures on climate change in Ireland.
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23 Nov 2010
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Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 11 May 2020 Feed synced: 23 Nov 2010 original

Drivers & Pressures

Under the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Ireland's total emissions are limited to an average of 62.8 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents per annum (13 per cent above the baseline estimate) in the period 2008-2012. The actual situation in relation to compliance with the Kyoto protocol will not be known until after this five year period.  However, we can estimate that after the first two years we are currently a total of 6.2 million tonnes above the target when the impact of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and Forest Sinks are taken into account.

In 2009, Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions decreased across all sectors due to the effects of the economic downturn with a decline in total emissions of 7.9 per cent.

Ireland’s emissions profile has changed considerably since 1990, with the contribution from transport more than doubling and the share from agriculture reducing since 1998. In a European context it is notable that Irish per capita emissions of greenhouse gas emissions remain among the highest.

Agriculture is the largest source of emissions, representing 29 per cent of total national emissions in 2009. This is despite emissions from agriculture reaching a peak in 1998 and decreasing to below their 1990 level in recent years, reflecting a long-term decline in cattle population and in fertiliser use due to the Common Agricultural Policy. Ireland’s unique position, within the EU, as the country with the highest national proportion of agriculture emissions will present this country with major challenges in limiting emissions and meeting future targets.

The energy industries represent 21 per cent of total national greenhouse gas emissions in 2009. Emissions from power generation account for the bulk of energy sector emissions. Since the mid 1990s, Ireland’s population growth has been significantly greater than the EU average. This coupled with the increase in the number of households, has placed greater demands on energy for heating and electricity, which to a large extent are fossil fuel based. Since around 2001 the improved efficiency of electricity generation by the use of less carbon intensive fuels, coupled with an increase in the share of renewables, have allowed increased electricity production while at the same time resulting in lower emissions. Emissions in 2009 were 10.7 per cent lower than in 2008.  This also reflects a reduced demand for electricity from end-users.

The transport sector, responsible for 21 per cent of total national emissions,  has been the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, showing a 156 per cent increase between 1990 and 2009. However, transport emissions were 7.7 per cent lower in 2009 than in 2008.  This is the second year in a row that a decrease in transport sector emissions has been reported. The decrease primarily reflects the impact of the economic downturn as well as the changes in vehicle registration tax and road tax introduced in mid-2008.

The industrial and commercial sector are responsible for 14.8 per cent of total national emissions.  Emissions from this sector are 20 per cent lower in 2009 compared to 2008. This reflects decreases in emissions from, primarily, food processing and cement production.


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Filed under: SOER2010, climate change
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