Economic growth driving Irish greenhouse gas emissions up

Published by David Hayden on

November 11, 2016

In a press release earlier today Minister Denis Naughten of the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment responded to the concerning findings published in a recent EPA report. Greenhouse gas emissions  are on the rise in Ireland and Minister Naughten seeks to quell concerns relating to Ireland’s compliance with long-term decarbonization goals.

In 2015 there has been a 3.7% rise in emissions from the 2014 figures. This rise is shared across all four of our the country’s largest emitting sectors; agriculture, energy, transport and the built environment.

The EPA director general Laura Burke stated : “Ireland is not on the right track for to meet its 2020 targets”. The cautionary report calls for ‘tranformational change’ warning that if Ireland does not find a way to decouple economic growth from growth in greenhouse gas emissions in the near future we will fall afoul of European decarbonization goals.

Minister Naughten restated his commitment to a low carbon economy in his press release. Specifically, he stated the National Mitigation Plan (NMP) will be made available for public consultation by the end of the year and that a final plan for government will be submitted by June 2017. The minister describes his strategy as a ‘whole of government’ approach in which he intends to hold ministers responsible for the emitting sectors accountable to the NMP.


Agriculture accounts for a third of Ireland’s carbon emissions and the rates look set to increase by 1.5% alongside increaed numbers of dairy cows with the removal of the dairy quota in 2015.


The increase in emissions from the energy section between the years of 2014 and 2015 is 5.4%. The trend in the energy sector that is the most worrying is the availability of cheap coal to be burned for electricity which has offset gains made in renewable energy sources.


Transport emissions have risen by 9% in just the last three years. The EPA underscores the correlation of strong economic and employment growth with increased transport emissions. Passenger diesel cars increased by 11.2% in 2015 and and diesel cars now represent the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector with negative implications for air quality as the proportion of diesel cars increases.

Built environment

The residential sector showed a 5.1% increase in emissions most likely due to low fuel prices. In addition to this, manufacturing and industrial processes showed a similar rate of increase at 5.2% . The latter increase is most likely accounted for by the increase in cement production which is a large component of carbon emissions. Cement production alone makes up almost 5% of Ireland’s national carbon emissions.

Room for optimism?

With all of the main sectors contributing to greenhouse gas emissions increasing rather than curtailing their emission rates do we have grounds for optimism about Minister Naughten’s National Mitigation Plan?

[x_author title=”About the Author”]

Related Post
Last chance to amend weak climate bill

Friends of the Earth, An Taisce, and Stop Climate Chaos lead the charge to amend the Climate Bill before it Read more

European TV station are looking for Irish people to produce a short video on climate change to air in France and Germany

TV channel ARTE are looking for Irish people to take part in a programme which will air during the COP21 Read more

The Environmental Pillar rejects eco-label given to an Irish salmon farm

The Environmental Pillar wishes to make clear to consumers and public that it rejects the awarding of an environmental certificate Read more

Calls to shorten the hedge cutting and gorse burning ban has no basis in science, say An Taisce

The environmental and heritage group are rejecting calls from the Irish Farming Association to shorten the hedge cutting times. An Read more

David Hayden

David is a contributor to the Green News. He has a Bachelor's Degree in International Business and French from UCD as well as a Master's Degrees in French literature and New Media from the University of California at San Diego and the Johns Hopkins University.