Evidence of significant decarbonisation of Ireland’s energy sector – SEAI

19% reduction in CO2 emissions since 2005

Emissions rise in recent years as economy recovers

Media release

27th October 2016: The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has published a report today which shows that significant decarbonisation of our energy system has happened in the last decade.  The ‘Energy-Related Emissions in Ireland’ report shows that, in the period 2005 to 2015, CO2 emissions from energy-related activities – power generation, heat, transport – decreased by 19% while the economy grew in aggregate by 40% over the same period. 

However, the report highlights that as the economy started to grow strongly in 2015 and the cost of energy began to fall, there was upward pressure on energy-related emissions with a single year increase of 6%.  Transport energy use, which is closely aligned with economic activity, increased in 2015.  Power generation emissions also grew due to increased electricity demand and, more worryingly, increased coal generation.  There was also increased energy-related emission in the residential sector, which can only be partly explained by slightly colder weather and increased heating demand in 2015.

Commenting on the figures, Dr Eimear Cotter, SEAI Head of Low Carbon Technologies said: “There is a clear need now to accelerate action in the context of renewed economic growth.  This is true for all sectors and in particular the transport sector which has shown a 14% increase in emissions in the last three years.  Energy-related CO2 emissions per capita in Ireland are above the European average which shows that we still have some way to go to decarbonise our energy system and deliver the multiple benefits for Ireland.”

The report identifies some of the main policy and infrastructure changes which have driven the decarbonisation between 2005 - 2015:

  • In the power generation sector, carbon-intensive oil and coal have been displaced with high efficiency gas plants and increased renewable energy including wind power.
  • In the residential sector there have been continued improvements in the energy performance of households through SEAI’s retrofit grant schemes, more stringent building regulations for new builds, along with a shift away from solid fuels.
  • Industry and commercial services have achieved reductions in energy-use coupled with continued fuel switching from oil to gas and electricity.

Concluding, Dr Cotter, said "SEAI’s analysis shows that Ireland’s energy system has started along the decarbonisation path.  A range of policy measures are having a positive impact such as SEAI’s energy efficiency programmes, building regulations and rebalancing VRT and motor tax.  Reducing energy use and switching to cleaner renewable energy brings environmental benefits such as reduced CO2 emissions but also wider health impacts through, for example, air quality improvements and economic benefits such as job creation”.

A copy of the report ‘Energy-Related Emissions in Ireland’ can be downloaded below:



For further information contact:

Morwenna Rice / Luke McDonnell, Drury|Porter|Novelli

01 260 5000/ 0861940069 (MR) 085 7127243 (LMD)

Editors Notes

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) plays a leading role in the transformation of Ireland to a society based on sustainable energy structures, technologies and practices. SEAI is designated as the Issuing Authority for Building Energy Ratings in Ireland.  SEAI is partly financed by Ireland’s EU Structural Funds Programme co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Union. 

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