Ireland on course to miss 2030 targets by a substantial shortfall

Posted on Monday, 24 June 2024
Main Image
Emissions targets
Page Content

Having missed the 2020 emission reductions targets, Ireland is now on course to miss the 2030 emission reduction targets by a substantial shortfall.  Ireland has set out a target of 51 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 in the Climate Act.  The latest Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) greenhouse gas emissions projections for the period 2023-2050 shows that planned climate policies and measures, if fully implemented, could deliver up to 29 per cent emissions reduction by 2030 compared to 2018, a reduction of 4 per cent each year from 2023 to 2030. This is well below the 51 per cent target.


Main findings

According to the EPA analysis, the first two carbon budgets (2021-2030), which aim to support achievement of the 51 per cent emissions reduction by 2030 goal, are projected to be exceeded by a significant margin of between 17 and 27 per cent.  All sectors, except Residential buildings, are projected to underperform relative to the sectoral emissions ceilings. Agriculture, Industry and Electricity sectors are projected to be the furthest from their sectoral ceiling in 2030.  Ireland will not meet its EU Effort Sharing Regulation target of 42 per cent reduction by 2030.

The EPA’s projections show that full delivery of all climate action plans and policies could deliver a 29 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This is well short of both our European and National emission reduction targets and highlights the scale of effort required to achieve the required reductions across all sectors of our economy. The key priority must be to substantially scale up policies to transition to a carbon neutral economy and society and to fully, and quickly, implement policies and plans on the ground.



 Total emissions from the Agriculture sector are projected to decrease by between 1 and 18 per cent over the period 2022 to 2030. Savings are projected from a variety of measures including limits on nitrogen fertiliser usage, switching to different fertilisers and bovine feed additives. The higher ambition scenario assumes that most of the measures outlined in Climate Action Plan 2024, AgClimatise and Teagasc (MACC) are in place.


Emissions from the sector are projected to reduce by 26 per cent over the period 2022 to 2030 if the measures set out in plans and policies are implemented. These include over 940,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030, increased biofuel blend rates and measures to support more sustainable transport. Road freight is projected to be the biggest source of road transport greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.


Driven by a reduction in fossil fuel usage and increased net importation of electricity from interconnectors, there was a marked drop of almost 24 per cent in emissions from electricity generation between 2022 and 2023.  In combination with planned increases in renewable energy generation from wind and solar, energy sector emissions are projected to reduce by 62 per cent and achieve over 80 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2030.

Land use 

Emissions from this sector are projected to increase between 23 per cent to 99 per cent over the period of 2023 to 2030 as our forestry reaches harvesting age and changes from a carbon sink to a carbon source. Planned policies and measures for the sector, such as increased afforestation, water table management on agricultural organic soils and peatland rehabilitation, are projected to reduce the extent of the emissions increase.


The lack of implementation plans for a range of Government policies aimed at reducing emissions means that they have not been modelled for the purpose of these projections.  The failure of Government to develop these plans is concerning given the short timeframe that Ireland has to reach its own legally binding climate goals, and the social, environmental and economic impact that climate change is already having on all sectors of our economy and society.   Government must actively progress available measures to reduce emissions.  In the energy system for example, the rapid scaling up and roll out of heat pumps, electric vehicles, reducing car demand, wind and solar renewable energy can deliver the majority of energy savings required by 2030.  Similarly in other sectors such as industry, transport and agriculture Government must scale up substantially measures that are already available, understood, tested and that are being used internationally.  These can be adapted to the Irish context and deliver emissions reductions.