Emissions from agriculture continue to rise - EPA

Emissions: Dairy cow numbers have risen by over 300,000 in the last five years. Stock picture
Emissions: Dairy cow numbers have risen by over 300,000 in the last five years. Stock picture
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Agriculture emissions increased by 1.9% in 2018 (0.38 Mt CO2eq)., according to latest figures from the EPA.

The most significant drivers are higher dairy cow numbers (+2.7%) which reflects national plans to expand milk production.

Dairy cow numbers have increased by 27% in the last five years while greenhouse gas emissions increased by 8% over that time.

The EPA said while agricultural production has gained some efficiency over this period, these gains will not be sufficient to deliver overall emission reductions. Full implementation of the measures outlined in the Climate Action Plan are required.

The figures show Ireland exceeded its emissions budget for the third year running, but had a marginal decrease of 0.2 % (0.14 Mt CO2eq) with total national emissions estimated at 60.5 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq).

Commenting, Dr. Eimear Cotter, Director of the Office of Environmental Sustainability, said Ireland has exceeded its annual EU emissions budget for the third year in a row, and by a margin of over 5 million tonnes.

"At a time of global urgency to address climate change this is a national trend that we must reverse. It is time for businesses and communities to support and be supported in taking action to reduce emissions. Ireland must implement the ambitious commitments in the 2019 Climate Action Plan to play its role in averting the worst impacts of climate change”.

Household emissions increased by 7.9% (0.46 Mt CO2eq) which reflected a colder winter in 2018.

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This increased demand for home heating – with oil still the predominant heating fuel - reflects the scale of the challenge to increase the resilience of our housing stock to extreme weather events, in terms of energy efficiency and use of renewable energy.

Transport emissions increased by 1.7% in 2018 (0.20 Mt CO2eq). This is the fifth year out of the last six with increased emissions in transport reflecting our growing economy with more movement of people and goods.

In road transport in 2018, petrol use continued to decrease by 9.2% while diesel use increased by 4.6% and biofuels use decreased by 4.0%. Reversing this trend will require the widespread transition to electric vehicles, increased use of public transport and reducing the number of car journeys.

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