Emissions continue to tumble, but we will still miss our 2020 carbon targets
Energy emissions have fallen in four of the last seven years in spite of sustained economic growth, a new report shows.
Carbon emissions from power generation fell between 2011 and 2014, and again between 2016 and 2017, which avoided 4.2 million tonnes of CO2 being generated, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) said. This is the equivalent to taking 70pc of private cars - or 1.4 million vehicles - off the road.
But the SEAI warned continued use of oil, coal and peat to produce electricity meant the carbon intensity of our energy supply was 32pc higher than the OECD European average.
We will not meet 2020 targets to reduce emissions, chief executive Jim Gannon added, but the figures showed progress was being made to decarbonise energy, which accounts for 61pc of all emissions.
"We're still on a pathway to fall short of our 2020 targets but we are seeing the impact of policy decisions," he said. "Between 2011 and 2014 we had absolute decoupling, where the economy was growing but emissions were falling.
"Between 2014 and 2016 we saw a rise in economic growth and a rise in emissions, but they were lower. In 2017 we showed that despite economic growth, we can decouple."
The 'Energy-Related CO2 Emissions in Ireland 2005-2016' report says €155m of fossil fuel imports were avoided in 2016 due to the use of wind power.
In the first three months of this year, wind output rose by 13pc which will help decarbonise, but Ireland had to start planning offshore wind farms which took up to a decade to deliver, the SEAI added.