EPA Report Sheet on Ireland’s Greenhouse Gases: Must do Better!

Hot on the heels – so to speak- of the torrid weather on the continent comes the Environmental Protection Agency’s report on Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions for 2022. Published in July the good news is that the emissions are down by nearly 3% on 2018. But hot on the heels of the EPA’s report came the annual review of the Climate Change Advisory Council warning that trends to date fall short of what is required to meet the reductions targeted for 2025.

And in fact a glance at the table shows how far emissions are off target. There was hardly any improvement in Agriculture since 2018 and Electricity, to take another important case, is only down 5% in the four years to 2022 leaving 35% to be achieved in the next three years. Only one sector seems to be on track and that is Residential Building. Its emissions are down 14% since 2018 leaving 6% to be achieved by 2025.

However, one good aspect of the figures is that the decline in emissions was achieved when the economy was growing. The graph shows that emissions have fallen in the past when the economy was in recession – that is in the period leading up to and following the crash of 2007 and in 2020 when Covid struck. So a decline in 2018-22 when the economy grew by 20% (as measured by modified Gross National Income) is encouraging.

But reducing emissions when the economy is growing is tough. If there is to be a serious attempt to meet the targets, slowing down economic growth needs to be considered.