EPA report means more Government action needed urgently in all sectors

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Setting of sectoral targets this month now key to closing the gap between climate ambition and action.

Today’s EPA Report “Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Projections 2021-2040” [1] paints a stark picture of increasing emissions and a significant gap between climate ambition and the action required to deliver that ambition. It shows that even with the roll-out of all of the measures in the Government’s 2021 Climate Action Plan, emissions will fall far short of commitments in Ireland’s Climate Law (28% reduction by 2030 instead of 51%).

Commenting Dr Bríd Walsh, Climate Policy Coordinator, Friends of the Earth said:

"This EPA report makes clear that Government has yet to adopt and deliver policies to ensure Ireland stays within our binding carbon budgets and reduces emissions by 51% by 2030. We need meticulous and urgent implementation of all planned climate actions and the identification and adoption of new actions in every sector. Key to this process is the Government’s introduction of new emissions‘ceilings’ for each sector, due by the end of this month[5]."

The following five findings from the Report are particularly concerning:

1. Ireland will exceed its first carbon budget (2021-2025; 295MtCO2e) by 40MtCO2e even if we achieve all the actions set out in 2021 Climate Action Plan. Additional measures must be urgently identified for inclusion in the 2021 Action Plan later this year [2].

2. Total greenhouse gas emissions are going in the wrong direction and are estimated to have increased by 6% in 2021. All sectors need to achieve the higher range of their respective targets in order for Ireland to meet the national legally binding commitment of 51% emissions reduction by 2030.

3. Transport emissions increased by 18-19% from 2020-2022 as COVID travel restrictions have ended.

4. Coal use increased to meet growing electricity demand (particularly from data centres) threatening achievement of targets in the electricity sector.

5. Methane emissions are hugely damaging and continuing to increase [3]. They now must be reduced by 30% in order to achieve agriculture’s lower target (i.e. a 22% cut in total GHGs by 2030) [4]. The Report calls for the agricultural sector to clearly set out how this will be achieved in the short time to 2030.

Dr Walsh continued:

"Every sector must do its fair share and we need maximum action from each sector[6].For example, if agriculture were allowed to only make the lower range emissions cut of 22% other sectors would have to cut emissions by three times thatto meet the overall target. That is neither feasible or fair. Government must not accept the‘slow-bicycle race’ approach to the sectoral ceilings demanded by vested interests. These new ceilings must also add up and align with legal commitments in our 2021 Climate Law. It is essential that Government does not permit a situation in which these new ceilings exceed our national carbon budget."

Jerry Mac Evilly, Head of Policy, Friends of the Earth added:

"Households are already being hit by the energy price crisis which will worsen further this winter and this EPA announcement is just the latest in a long list of red flags. Many of the kinds of measures that we need to reduce emissions and protect the vulnerable are already being progressed by other states and now must be delivered before the coming winter. Friends of the Earth recently published a five-point plan for Government to cut bills, save energy and reduce pollution.[7]This plan sets out a whole-of-Government response with 48 policy recommendations designed to ensure Ireland’s delivers on its climate commitments while ending fossil fuel dependence and assisting those struggling to pay their energy bills."



  1. EPA (2022) Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Projections 2021-2040. Available at: https://www.epa.ie/publications/monitoring--assessment/climate-change/air-emissions/EPA-Ireland's-GHG-Projections-Report-2021-2040v1.pdf.
  2. The 51% target is designed to be met through the carbon budgets and sectoral emission ceilings, and the findings of the Report make clear that the government must ensure maximum ambition in setting the sectoral emission ceilings.
  3. EPA (2002) Summary by Gas. Available at: https://www.epa.ie/our-services/monitoring--assessment/climate-change/ghg/summary-by-gas/#d.en.84366.
  4. Meeting the lower target across all sectors would mean that we do not meet our commitment to reduce emissions by 51% by 2030. All sectors must achieve the upper target to meet this commitment (i.e. a 30% cut in total Agriculture GHGs by 2030, for example).
  5. Sectoral ceilings will be introduced in June 2022 and involve Government dividing the national carbon budget between the following sectors of the Irish economy: electricity, transport, buildings, industry, agriculture, and land use, land use change, and forestry (LULUCF). The Sectoral Ceilings set the maximum amount of greenhouse gas emissions that can be emitted from each of the sectors during the 5-year carbon budgets (2021-2025, 2026-2030). The sum of the sectoral ceilings for each carbon budget must not add up to more than the national emission ceiling in the carbon budget itself. See recent Stop Climate Chaos Coalition letter to Minister Ryan on the setting of the sectoral emission ceilings. Available at: https://www.stopclimatechaos.ie/assets/files/pdf/letter_to_minister_ryan_re_sectoral_emission_ceilings_stop_climate_chaos_coalition.pdf.
  6. The government must set the sectoral targets at the upper end of the target range (i.e. 50% for transport, 30% for agriculture, and 81% for electricity).
  7. Friends of the Earth (2022) Five-point plan for Government to cut bills, save energy, and reduce pollution. Available at: https://www.foe.ie/assets/files/pdf/5_point_plan_to_cut_bills_save_energy_and_reduce_pollution_-_may_2022.pdf

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