Green Giants: Agri, Forestry, and Fishing Sector Account for 35% of Ireland’s GHG Emissions in 2021

"Greenhouse Gas Emissions Surge in Ireland: Agriculture Sector Responsible for 35% of Increase, New CSO Figures Reveal"

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Ireland have increased in 2021, with the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector accounting for 35% of these emissions, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO). The CSO data reveals that overall GHG emissions in Ireland rose by 5% to 67.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2021. Clare O’Hara, a statistician in the environment and climate division of the CSO, explained that the increase in emissions was primarily driven by a rise of 2.1 million tonnes of CO2e from the industry sector, including a 1.6 million tonne increase from electricity generation, and a 0.8 million tonne increase from the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector.

The CSO data also shows that GHG emissions from the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector reached their highest level in 2021, at 23.7 million tonnes of CO2e, after increasing each year from 2015 to 2018. Emissions from this sector then fell by 4% in 2019, before rising by 1% in 2020 and 4% in 2021. The latest report published by the CSO, Environmental Accounts Air Emissions 2021, highlights that the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector was responsible for 94% of methane emissions and 94% of nitrous oxide emissions. It also notes that emissions of most air pollutants increased in 2021, although the CSO emphasizes that this data must be interpreted in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of the pandemic on road and air transport resulted in lower GHG emissions in 2020 and 2021 compared to previous years.

The rise in emissions of sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide can be attributed to increased emissions from the electricity generation sector, according to the CSO. The report further reveals that while the household sector accounted for 77% of carbon monoxide emissions, the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector was responsible for 99% of ammonia emissions. It is important to note that the increase in GHG emissions and air pollutants occurred despite the lower overall emissions caused by the pandemic.

These figures highlight the urgent need for action to reduce emissions in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector, which has consistently been a significant contributor to Ireland’s GHG emissions. The sector must adopt sustainable practices and explore innovative solutions to mitigate its environmental impact. Efforts should focus on reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions, as well as addressing ammonia emissions. Policymakers, industry stakeholders, and farmers must collaborate to develop and implement effective strategies that promote sustainable farming practices and support the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Furthermore, the government should prioritize investment in renewable energy sources and promote the use of clean technologies in electricity generation to reduce emissions from this sector. It is crucial to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and decarbonize the electricity grid to achieve Ireland’s climate targets. Additionally, efforts to improve energy efficiency in households and reduce carbon monoxide emissions should be intensified.

In conclusion, the increase in GHG emissions in Ireland, particularly from the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector, is concerning. The latest CSO data underscores the need for immediate action to address these emissions and transition to a more sustainable and low-carbon economy. The government, industry, and individuals all have a role to play in reducing emissions, adopting sustainable practices, and embracing clean technologies. Only through collective efforts can Ireland effectively combat climate change and protect the environment for future generations.

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons is the founder of Forestry & Carbon. Matt has over 25 years as a forestry consultant and is invoilved in numerous carbon credit offset projects.

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