This publication reports on CO₂ emissions from fossil fuel combustion in Ireland from 2005 to 2018.

  • 90%

    fossil fuels used for energy in 2018
  • +24%

    increase in CO₂ emissions from transport since 2012
  • -33%

    reduction in CO₂ emissions from electricity generation since 2005

Key findings

The report shows that energy-related CO₂ emissions declined slightly in 2018, even as energy use increased. This was due to changes in the mix of fuels used, particularly for electricity generation, where more renewable energy and less coal was used. CO₂ emissions from travel and heating our homes and businesses increased again in 2018.

This report shows us once again the challenges we face in reducing our CO₂ emissions from energy use. CO₂ emissions from travel and heating our homes and businesses increased again in 2018. While emissions from electricity decreased, we have a hill to climb if we are to make meaningful inroads in the other sectors. The ambitious course of action plotted in the Climate Action Plan has the potential to turn these trends around. It’s important now that citizens, businesses and Government work together to deliver on those actions to tackle the climate crisis.
Jim Scheer, Head of Data and Insights at SEAI

Energy-related CO₂ by mode

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ktCO2,Electricity,Heat ,Transport
2005,15325,16968,15261
2006,14945,15586,16325
2007,14508,15742,17113
2008,14507,16993,16196
2009,13133,14942,14388
2010,13409,14944,13547
2011,12032,13693,13016
2012,12883,13109,12316
2013,11490,12765,12794
2014,11292,12085,13286
2015,11895,12823,14062
2016,12604,13228,14646
2017,11689,12736,14822
2018,10221,13444,15232
2019,8979,13194,15255
2020,8398,13538,11209
Source: SEAI

Share of energy-related CO₂ by sector in 2018

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Share of energy related CO2 emissions by sector (%),2018
Transport,40
Residential,23.9
Industry,21.3
Services,12.7
Agricultural,2.2
Source: SEAI

High emissions from transport

Transport is by far the largest source of energy-related CO2 emissions in Ireland. In 2018 it was responsible for 40%. It is also the sector where CO2 emissions have grown the most since the end of the recession in 2012.

Households and industry are the next biggest sources of energy-related CO2 emissions. Households were responsible for 24% of energy-related CO2 emissions in 2018 and industry for 21%.

Ireland is unusual in that households emits more CO2 than industry. This is because Ireland does not have as much heavy industry, such as steel or fertiliser manufacture, compared to other countries. Also we use larger amounts of carbon intensive fuels such as coal, peat and oil in our homes, compared to other EU countries.

Energy is commonly split into three sectors: transport, heat and electricity. In 2018, transport had the largest share of energy-related CO2 emissions at 40%, with heat next at 33%. Electricity was responsible for 27% of energy-related CO2 emissions, despite only accounting for 19% of final energy. This is because large amounts of coal and peat are still burned to generate electricity. These fuels have high CO2 intensity and are burned at low efficiencies.

Benefits of renewable energy

Using renewable energy for heat, electricity and transport reduced emissions by 4.9 million tonnes of CO₂. This is equivalent to the CO₂ emissions of almost half of all Irish homes. It is estimated that in 2018 Ireland's use of renewables displaced approximately €623 million in fossil fuel imports. Wind generated electricity was responsible for the large majority of this, avoiding €432 million of fossil fuel imports.

CO₂ emissions avoided through the use of renewable energy

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Avoided CO? from renewable energy,Wind (E),Hydro (E),Solid Biomass (H),Landfill Gas (E),Liquid Biofuels (T),Renewable Wastes (E),Solid Biomass (E),Solar Thermal (H),Biogas (H),Ambient (H)
2005,0.58,0.33,0.22,0.07,0,0,0.01,0,0.03,0.01
2006,0.84,0.37,0.24,0.07,0.01,0,0.01,0,0.03,0.01
2007,0.91,0.31,0.28,0.09,0.07,0,0.01,0.01,0.03,0.02
2008,1.1,0.44,0.26,0.1,0.17,0,0.02,0.01,0.03,0.02
2009,1.33,0.4,0.28,0.1,0.23,0.01,0.06,0.02,0.04,0.03
2010,1.22,0.26,0.24,0.11,0.28,0.02,0.11,0.03,0.04,0.03
2011,1.57,0.3,0.23,0.1,0.3,0.03,0.14,0.04,0.04,0.03
2012,1.43,0.33,0.18,0.1,0.26,0.11,0.19,0.04,0.04,0.03
2013,1.66,0.25,0.21,0.09,0.31,0.12,0.24,0.04,0.04,0.04
2014,1.89,0.29,0.28,0.09,0.35,0.12,0.28,0.04,0.04,0.05
2015,2.44,0.32,0.23,0.1,0.39,0.14,0.2,0.05,0.04,0.06
2016,2.19,0.27,0.24,0.1,0.36,0.15,0.21,0.05,0.05,0.07
2017,2.7,0.27,0.2,0.09,0.49,0.23,0.2,0.05,0.05,0.09
2018,3.15,0.27,0.22,0.08,0.47,0.34,0.18,0.05,0.05,0.12
2019,3.88,0.37,0.2,0.07,0.57,0.33,0.19,0.05,0.06,0.15
2020,4.49,0.39,0.23,0.07,0.53,0.35,0.24,0.05,0.07,0.18
Source: SEAI

Climate Action Plan - Accelerating our transition

The 2018 energy results underline the need to swiftly implement the Government’s Climate Action Plan, which sets out over 180 actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 36% across all sectors of the economy and tackle the climate crisis.  From an energy perspective, these include:

  • Phasing out coal and peat from electricity generation, and taking the necessary actions to deliver 70% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030
  • Creating a new national retrofit model to upgrade the energy efficiency of 500,000 existing homes to B2 equivalent Building Energy Rating
  • Installing 600,000 electric heat pumps to replace fossil fuel home heating
  • Enabling homeowners to generate their own electricity and sell it back to the grid under a micro-generation scheme from 2021
  • Increasing the number of EV’s on Irish roads to 1 million by 2030

To avail of Government supports delivered by SEAI please visit our grants page.

Visit DCCAE Climate Action Plan

Energy-related CO₂ Emissions in Ireland 2005 – 2018

The full report presents the latest national data on energy-related CO₂ emissions in Ireland from 2005 to 2018. It looks at CO₂ emissions from fossil fuel use, emissions by sector, ETS and non-ETS energy-related CO₂ emissions and then CO₂ emissions avoided through use of renewable energy.

Download the reportDownload the infographic

Reducing CO₂ emissions from energy use requires increased energy efficiency and increasing the use of renewable energy in our energy mix. To achieve our targets, we need to tackle this urgently in every part of society. As citizens, we can play our part by changing how we use energy in our homes and how we travel. There are a wide range of Government supports available from SEAI, which have already supported 420,000 homeowners with energy upgrades and 8,900 motorists purchase an electric vehicle. People should avail of these, and other supports where they can.
Jim Scheer, Head of Data and Insights at SEAI