| 17.4°C Dublin

Irish greenhouse gas levels are on the rise, as cow numbers increase


Environmental Protection Agency figures released today show that Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased significantly in 2015, with the link between economic growth and increased emissions yet to be broken. 

Today’s release provides provisional greenhouse gas emissions figures for the time period 1990 – 2015. 

For 2015, total national greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to be 59.84m tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq) which is 3.7pc (2.12 Mt CO2 eq) higher than emissions in 2014.

The Energy Industries, Transport and Agriculture sectors now account for almost 73 pc of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Agriculture remains the single largest contributor to the overall emissions at 33pc of the total. Transport and Energy Industries are the second and third largest contributors at 19.8 pc and 19.7pc respectively.


Agriculture emissions increased by 1.5pc in 2015 or 0.30 Mt CO2eq.

The most significant drivers for the increased emissions in 2015 are higher dairy cow numbers (+7.7pc) with an increase in milk production of 13.2pc.

This reflects national plans to expand milk production under Food Wise 2025 and the removal of the milk quota in 2015.

There were also increased CO2 emissions from liming (+2.7pc) and urea (+12.8pc) application. Other cattle, sheep and pig numbers all decreased by 0.1pc, 3.3pc and 1.6pc respectively.

Total fossil fuel consumption in agriculture/forestry/fishing activities decreased by 4.7% in 2015.


The figures also show that transport sector emissions increased by 4.2pc in 2015 alone and have now increased in each of the last three years, while emissions from the Energy Industries sector increased by 5.4pc, due largely to increased coal use for electricity generation.

The Residential sector has seen a reversal of the reductions in 2014, with emissions growth at 5.1% due to low fuel prices and a colder winter.

Ireland is not currently on the right track to meet its 2020 targets

Laura Burke, EPA Director General, said Ireland’s economy is growing strongly again and the growth in the number of people at work benefits all of society.

“However, we haven’t yet achieved a decoupling of economic growth from emissions, something most evident in the transport sector.

“For our current growth to be sustainable we must implement measures to decarbonise the transport and energy sectors, as described in the EPA’s recently released State of the Environment Report, and ensure that increases in agricultural production aren’t at the expense of the environment.

“Ireland is not currently on the right track to meet its 2020 targets, nor is it on the right emissions trajectory to meet future EU targets or our national 2050 decarbonisation goals.”

Online Editors