Industrial emission from the dairy processing industry rose by 4% in 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said.

The rise comes as the EPA, acting as the competent authority in Ireland for the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), released its preliminary analysis of greenhouse gas emissions in 2020.

Emissions from Irish power generation and industrial companies fell by 6.4% (0.9m tonnes) in 2020, to their lowest level since the EU ETS was introduced in 2005. This compares with a decrease of approximately 11-12% across Europe.

The EPA has said the decrease in emissions is due to the impact of lower production in some industrial sectors during the pandemic, combined with a significant drop in power generation emissions.

In Ireland, 105 major industrial and institutional sites were required to report their emissions for 2020 by 31 March 2021 in the Emissions Trading System.

Rise and falls

EPA senior manager Dr Maria Martin said an increase in the use of renewables in the power generation sector, coupled with the impact of COVID-19, has led to less emissions.

“There are, nevertheless, many companies in the industrial sectors, such as dairy processing and pharmachem, where emissions are increasing year on year.

“A positive development is the fact that the price of carbon in the EU ETS has continued to rise from just under €31/t at the end of 2020 to €43/t currently. It is not yet clear if this will be sufficient and stable enough to drive emissions reductions.”

Power generation emissions dropped by 8.4% as a result of the strong presence of renewable energy and less use of fossil fuels, such as peat, in the energy mix.

In contrast, emissions from the ESB coal-fired plant at Moneypoint increased by almost 27%, mainly due to increased demand for balance on the national grid.

The decrease in industrial emissions collectively is 3.5%; cement industries recorded a 5.7% decrease overall and emissions from pharmachem industries increased by 10.9%.

Aviation emissions from flights within the European Economic Area reported to Ireland decreased by 63% compared to 2019, to 4.74m tonnes. The only airline showing an increase in emissions in 2019 and 2020 specialises in air freight.