Decreasing Emissions an Encouraging Step in Right Direction but Need for Radical Government Action Remains

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Friends of the Earth has welcomed the EPA climate-changing pollution figures for 2023, published today (Tuesday, 9th of July). The EPA’s provisional greenhouse gas emissions for Ireland for 2023 show a reduction of 6.8% compared to 2022, thanks to reductions in most sectors, with emissions now at their lowest levels in over three decades according to the EPA [1]. The environmental campaigning charity described the emissions drop in 2023 as encouraging, coming on the back of a 2% drop in 2022.

The figures come just as the World Meteorological Organization reported that June was the 13th month in a row when global average temperatures were the highest ever for that month.

Reacting to the EPA emissions figures for 2023, released this morning, Friends of the Earth Head of Policy, Jerry Mac Evilly, said:

“These figures show that policy change works. It is significant and welcome that the Government’s climate measures are taking effect and leading to real reductions in Ireland’s polluting emissions. Reduced fossil fuels in energy and home heating, as well as reduced nitrogen fertiliser, all had an impact. That this is happening due to progressive policy-making, and not merely an economic downturn, is an important landmark.

However, the figures also show that Ireland remains well off track in terms of meeting national and EU commitments [2]. It remains the case that even with this reduction, we need much bolder policy change and much faster and more disciplined implementation across all government departments and state agencies if we are going to stay within our legally binding limits on pollution to 2025 and 2030. We also can’t lose sight of the fact that transport emissions slightly grew and that there was a slight increase in dairy cow numbers.

Back in May, the EPA noted that, for the third year running, planned Government action is projected to cut emissions by less than 30% by 2030 when the benchmark in the climate law is a 51% reduction. The Government has adopted many of the right policies but are failing to deliver actions needed to reduce emissions in line with the binding limits set by the Dáil.

We need faster and fairer climate action to make sure we leave a liveable planet for today’s young people. We need the government to lead the systems change we need in our transport, electricity, buildings and food systems. If they do that we can create a cleaner, healthier, safer future for all. The public won’t thank our politicians if they sit on their hands in the face of global overheating, and the extreme weather it is bringing with it, for fear of inconveniencing vocal minorities.”

Commenting on the figures, Friends of the Earth Chief Executive, Oisín Coghan, said:

“What these figures show is that politicians must hold their nerve on climate action. Government policy is beginning to make a difference but in recent times we have seen politicians in this country and across Europe step back from accelerating climate action because of pushback from vocal interest groups. It’s important the Government builds on gains made in 2023 and now prioritises the corrective measures and known solutions across all sectors to urgently close the emissions gap.

The truth is that when political leaders confidently speak up for climate action they can bring people with them, as recent election results in the Netherlands and France have shown. When politicians rowback, it just emboldens those opposed to action and sows confusion for businesses and householders. Our politicians say it’s a climate emergency so the most reassuring thing they can do for the public is act like it.”




  1. The provisional estimates of Ireland’s greenhouse gas figures for the years 1990-2023 are available on the EPA website -

The EPA notes that, ‘Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 6.8 per cent (4.0 Mt CO2eq) in 2023 with reductions in almost all sectors. This is the lowest that greenhouse gas emissions have been in three decades, and below the 1990 baseline.

Emissions data show the largest single year reductions in the energy and agriculture sectors and the lowest level of residential emissions since 1990, while transport emissions were below pre-Covid levels. 

  • Power generation emissions decreased by 21.6 per cent (2.2 Mt CO2eq) 

  • Agriculture emissions decreased by 4.6 per cent (1.0 Mt CO2eq) 

  • Residential emissions decreased by 7.1 per cent (0.4 Mt CO2eq)

  • Transport emissions increased marginally by 0.3 per cent (0.03 Mt CO2eq)'

  1. The EPA assessment indicates:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions (incl. LULUCF) are 7.8% lower than in 2018 which is significantly short of the state’s target of a 51% reduction by 2030.  If Ireland is to stay within the first legally binding carbon budget, annual reductions of 8% for both 2024 and 2025 are required. 

  • Ireland complied with its EU Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) commitments for 2021-2023, with the use of allowed flexibilities. 2023 greenhouse gas emissions were 10.1% below 2005 levels, which is significantly short of Ireland’s EU Effort Sharing reduction commitment of 42% by 2030.