Ireland not on track to meet its long-term decarbonisation goals

Fossil fuel use in sectors a threat to Ireland’s long-term green energy goals. Kevin O’Sullivan discusses Ireland’s energy transition situation in an article on the Irish Times website.

 

Transport and heat emissions holding back progress on decarbonising

Significant progress in decarbonising power generation in Ireland is being undermined by increases in carbon emissions from transport and heating, according to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

The energy sector continues to rely heavily on fossil fuels, it says in its latest report on energy-related CO2 emissions in Ireland.

The report shows such emissions declined slightly in 2018 even as energy use increased. But progress on using renewables in generating electricity is disguising growing problems in transport and heating both domestic and commercial buildings.

Critically, the overall reduction “was not enough to keep Ireland on track to meet long-term decarbonisation goals”.

SEAI head of data Jim Scheer said their analysis once again showed the scale of the challenge Ireland faced in reducing emissions associated with energy production. “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 relates to 2018 primarily and pre-dates the Government’s climate action plan published last year. “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,” Mr Scheer stressed.

Biggest emitter

In 2018, transport was the biggest emitter of energy-related carbon emissions (40 per cent) – these include emissions from aviation but not shipping. Energy used for heat was next at 33 per cent and electricity generation at 27 per cent. They increased by 24 per cent between 2012 and 2018, in line with economic growth, while the sector “remains almost entirely dependent on fossil fuels”.

Private cars were responsible for the largest share of emissions from transport at 40 per cent but the largest growth was in air travel, up 8 per cent in 2018 to an all-time high.

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