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Staying at home sees emissions fall by 17pc

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Fuel emissions from exhausts fell by 17pc in 2020 (stock photo)

Fuel emissions from exhausts fell by 17pc in 2020 (stock photo)

Fuel emissions from exhausts fell by 17pc in 2020 (stock photo)

Staying at home prevented two million tonnes of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere last year as motorists inadvertently did their bit for climate action.

Transport emissions fell by 17pc because of Covid travel restrictions, proving a permanent change in commuting habits could have a significant role in cutting carbon.

Covid drove other emissions up, however, sparking a 9pc rise from the residential sector as people worked and studied, or were left unemployed, at home with lights and heating on for longer than normal.

Emissions from the energy industry fell by 14pc but this had little to do with the pandemic and was a result of the move away from coal and peat in electricity generation to renewable energy instead.

Rebound

A slight rise in agricultural emissions is expected as a result of increased fuel and fertiliser use.

The figures, from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, are estimates to be verified later this year but usually have a high degree of accuracy.

Overall they amount to a fall in emissions of 6pc, close to the 7pc annual average to which the Government has committed.

However, EPA director general Laura Burke said the post-Covid economic rebound would push emissions back up.

"While these early estimates show a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for 2020 as a result of Covid restrictions, this level of emission reductions, at a minimum, will be required annually," she said.

Climate Action Minister Eamon Ryan said the figures showed the scale of the changes required to the way the population lived if emissions were to be reduced.

"Just doing less than business-as-usual will not be enough, we must make fundamental changes to how we live our lives," he said.


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