Ireland’s emissions dangerously high, EPA report finds

Climate Case Ireland, in their legal challenge against the Irish government’s inaction on climate change, argue that the failure of the State’s 2017 National Mitigation Plan to reduce Ireland’s emissions in the short-term violates citizens’ constitutional and human rights.[1]

A new report [2] published by the Environmental Protection Agency today reveals that Ireland’s emissions amounted to a massive 60,506 kilotonnes CO2 equivalent in 2018, meaning that our emissions have increased by almost 10% between 1990 and 2018, when the government itself has agreed that our emissions need to decrease by 25-40% from 1990 to 2020 to help avert dangerous climate breakdown.

The energy sector was one of the only areas in which emissions reduced over the past year but this was not because of a proactive policy response to the climate crisis, but instead because Moneypoint coal power station was closed for part of the year for maintenance works and then because of a high carbon price in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, meaning it was not economic to operate the power station. In addition:

  • Household emissions increased by a staggering 7.9% year-on-year, demonstrating the alarming consequences of failure to address energy efficiency and renewable energy in the housing sector.
  • Transport emissions increased by 1.7% – an increase for the fifth year in a row, and 137% above 1990 levels.[3]
  • Agricultural emissions increased 1.9% due to the sector’s unsustainable expansion of dairy production.

Spokesperson for Climate Case Ireland Tony Lowes commented:

“This report from the EPA demonstrates that the government’s 2017 National Mitigation Plan is failing to achieve the reductions in emissions that are necessary to respect our fundamental rights and keep all of us safe. We agree with the EPA’s conclusion that urgent change is needed across all sectors of Irish society, but this needs to be government-led.” 

He continued: “The crux of the matter is that the costs will be counted in lives (people are already dying in Ireland[4]and in many other countries as a result of the climate crisis[5]). The evidence is clear, and scientists have been sounding the alarm for decades. Either we reduce emissions urgently to stay below (an extremely volatile) 1.5C, or we allow emissions to spiral beyond control, and fail to sustain a habitable planet.”

“As well as putting lives and homes at risk, the government’s disregard of our 2020 emissions reduction targets will cost Irish taxpayers hundreds of millions of euro – money we desperately need to invest right now in the transition to a low-carbon economy.”

“Failure to reduce Ireland’s emissions in the short-term, which we know is essential to help prevent the worst impacts of climate breakdown, is tantamount to climate denial. This government is failing to listen to its children, its Citizens Assembly, and the best available climate science. This is climate vandalism.”

“This report from the EPA demonstrates that by failing to achieve reductions in emissions consistent with climate science, the Irish government is knowingly contributing to climate breakdown. It seems that the government has declared a leisurely climate emergency. We know that it is not a question of if we will transition to a low-carbon economy, but when. By delaying action, the government is effectively guaranteeing a more disruptive and difficult or even impossible transition.”




For further information, contact:


Tony Lowes, 087 2176316,


Read the case and the first judgment


[1] Climate Case Ireland is a legal challenge taken by Friends of the Irish Environment against the Irish government. The High Court ruled against Friends of the Irish Environment in September 2019. Friends of the Irish Environment are now considering grounds for appeal. See more information at

[2] See details of the full report from the Environmental Protection Agency here.