Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 22 January 2019

Greenhouse gas levels set to rise as dairy expansion continues

Agriculture emissions are projected to increase by between 3-4pc by 2020 and 6-7pc by 2030 on current levels based on an expansion of animal numbers, particularly for the dairy herd.
Agriculture emissions are projected to increase by between 3-4pc by 2020 and 6-7pc by 2030 on current levels based on an expansion of animal numbers, particularly for the dairy herd.
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Ireland’s total greenhouse gas emissions will increase from current levels to 2020, underpinned by strong economic growth, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

It says that despite an EU target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20pc on 2005 levels from the non-Emissions Trading Scheme (non-ETS) sector –  agriculture, transport, residential, commercial, non-energy intensive industry and waste, the latest projections show that, at best, Ireland will only achieve a one per cent reduction by 2020 compared to the 20pc reduction target.

In relation to 2030, Ireland’s target calls for a 30pc reduction of emissions compared to 2005, with binding annual limits over the 2021-2030 period.

These latest projections indicate that Ireland will exceed the allowable carbon budget implied by those limits by between 47-52Mt over the period, even assuming the allowed-for flexibilities are fully used.

The latest projections show that increasing fossil fuel consumption and an expanding agriculture sector are leading to increased emissions. In particular:

  • Energy industry emissions – mainly power generation – are projected to grow strongly from 2020 to 2025 as a result of an expansion of co-firing of peat and biomass;
  • Transport emissions are projected to increase from current levels by 17-18pc by 2020 and by 17-20pc by 2030.  A decline in emissions is projected from 2025 to 2030, resulting from an acceleration in the number of electric vehicles on Irish roads;
  • Agriculture emissions are projected to increase by between 3-4pc by 2020 and 6-7pc by 2030 on current levels based on an expansion of animal numbers, particularly for the dairy herd.

Commenting on the figures, Dr Eimear Cotter, Director of the Office of Environmental Sustainability, said projections show that emissions will continue to grow in tandem with economic growth in the absence of significant new policy interventions.

"There will be strong growth in the short term in emissions from transport driven by increased fossil fuel consumption, while continued use of coal and peat in power generation offsets the addition of new renewable generation.

"Achieving stated commitments in relation to our national policy position and greenhouse gas emission reductions requires action on many fronts and across each sector. In particular, we are highlighting the need for a decisive move away from fossil fuels through significantly improved energy efficiency and the use of cleaner, renewable fuels.”

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Ireland is committed to becoming a low carbon economy and society. A significant number of new or extended measures have been announced in the recent National Development Plan and the National Mitigation Plan.

Stephen Treacy, EPA Senior Scientist said transforming our society to low carbon has associated climate and health benefits and our projections show that we are currently not on track to meet this ambition or meet our EU targets.

"The anticipated impact of the recently announced policies and measures has yet to be incorporated into the projections. This needs to happen as soon as possible to ensure that we have the best information available on Ireland’s future emissions’ trajectory and the impact of these Government policies. This will inform robust policy decisions into the future.”

Online Editors