Reduction in overall carbon emissions but Transport and Home Heating increases put Ireland well off target according to SEAI

  • Energy-related CO₂ emissions fell slightly, but not fast enough to achieve target
  • Emissions from energy use for transport and heating are increasing
  • Electricity generation more carbon efficient due to less coal and more renewables
  • Swift implementation of the Climate Action Plan needed to put Ireland on the right track

05 March 2020: The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) today published its Energy- Related CO₂ Emissions in Ireland report. 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. However, the overall reduction was not enough to keep Ireland on track to meet long term decarbonisation goals.

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 data in this report pre-dates the release of the Government’s Climate Action Plan. The ambitious course of action plotted in that 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 is commonly split into three sectors: transport, heat and electricity. In 2018, transport was the biggest emitter of energy-related CO₂ emissions accounting for 40%. Energy used for heat was the next biggest at 33% and electricity generation was responsible for 27%.

Transport emissions increased by 24% between 2012 in 2018, in line with economic growth. Transport remains almost entirely dependent on fossil fuels. Private cars were responsible for the largest share of CO₂ emissions from transport in 2018 at 40%. The largest growth was in air travel which increased by 8% in 2018.

In the heat sector, fossil fuels used to heat homes were the largest source of CO₂ emissions at 47%, up 8% on the previous year.  Industry had the next largest share at 21%. Even with an increase in the amount of renewable energy used for heat, Ireland has the second lowest share of renewable energy used for heat in the EU.

CO₂ emissions from electricity generation fell in 2018, even as the amount of electricity used increased. The reduction in CO₂ intensity of electricity was due mostly to two factors, a 44% decrease in coal used for electricity generation because of a technical fault at Ireland’s only coal fired power plant, and a 16% increase in wind generated electricity. Zero-carbon renewable energy generated 33% of all electricity in 2018, up from just 7% in 2005.

Using renewable energy for heat, electricity and transport reduced CO₂ emissions by 4.9 million tonnes of CO₂. This is equivalent to the CO₂ emissions of half of all homes in Ireland. Despite this, the latest data shows that the CO₂ emissions intensity of Ireland’s energy supply is 20% higher than the European average. This is due to greater use of high carbon fossil fuels including coal, peat and oil.

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 via SEAI, which have already supported over 420,000 homeowners with energy upgrades and around 9,000 car owners to purchase an electric vehicle. Community based action is also on the rise. People should get involved in the transition and avail of these, and other supports where they can.
Jim Scheer, Head of Data and Insights at SEAI

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

Visit our dedicated Energy- Related CO₂ Emissions in Ireland 2005 – 2018 report page.

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Áine Roddy, aine@carrcommunications.ie / 087 777 3688

 

Notes to Editor:

CO₂ Emissions from Energy Use – Report Highlights

  • Economy, energy use and CO₂
  • Fossil fuels used for energy accounted for 59% of all Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2018.
  • Transport was the largest source of energy-related CO₂ emissions (40%), followed by heat (33%) and electricity generation (27%).
  • Energy use in Ireland remains strongly linked to economic growth. As the economy returned to growth after 2014, so too did energy use in heat, transport and electricity.
  • Overall energy-related CO₂ emissions declined slightly in 2018, as the reductions in electricity generation outweighed the increase in heat and transport.
  • This reduction was not enough to keep Ireland on track to meet long term decarbonisation goals.
  • The CO₂ emissions intensity of Ireland’s energy supply is 20% higher than the European average. This is due to greater use of high-carbon fossil fuels including coal, peat and oil.
  • Changes in the mix of fuels used means that CO₂ emissions per unit of energy used are improving

CO₂ emissions from transport

  • Transport was responsible for the largest share of energy-related CO₂ emissions in 2018 at 40%, up from 33% in 2005.
  • CO₂ emissions from transport increased by 24% between 2012 and 2018.
  • Transport remains almost entirely dependent on fossil fuels. In the absence of decarbonisation of the fuel mix, CO₂ emissions from transport are increasing in line with increasing energy use.
  • Private cars are responsible for the largest share of transport emissions at 40%, aviation is next at 22%, followed by heavy goods vehicles at 14%.
  • CO₂ emissions from aviation increased by 8% in 2018 to reach an all-time high, surpassing the previous Celtic Tiger peak.

CO₂ emissions from heating

  • CO₂ emissions are also increasing from heat, due to increasing energy use.
  • CO₂ from fossil fuels burned in homes increased by 8% in 2018.
  • There has been a slight reduction in the CO₂ intensity of the mix of fuels used for heat. Much of this is due to a switch away from oil use.
  • The amount of oil used for heating reduced by 35% between 2005 and 2018. Most of this reduction happened in industry, where oil use fell by 55%. Oil use in services also fell sharply by 48%.
  • There was also an increase in the amount of renewable energy used for heat, but from a low base. Ireland has the second lowest share of renewable energy used for heat in the EU.

CO₂ emissions from electricity

  • CO₂ emissions from electricity generation declined in 2018, despite the growth in energy demand.
  • There has been a strong reduction in the CO₂ intensity of electricity generation since 2005, especially after 2016.
  • CO₂ emissions from coal used to generate electricity reduced by 44% in 2018. This was due to a technical fault at Ireland's only coal fired electricity generation plant, Moneypoint.
  • Zero-carbon renewable energy generated 33% of all electricity in 2018, up from just 7% in 2005.

Renewable energy avoiding CO₂ emissions

  • 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.
  • Wind generated electricity alone avoided 3.1 million tonnes of CO₂.