LESS and protected urea to drive agri emissions reductions to 2030 – EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published its greenhouse gas emissions projections for the period 2019-2040 – which expects to see an agricultural reduction of 16.5Mt of CO2 equivalent over the next decade.

According to the EPA, the projections show Ireland can meet its current EU target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.

This would require full implementation of the measures in the 2019 Climate Action Plan and would result in 3% average annual emissions reductions from 2021 to 2030.

The EPA projections show significant emission reductions across transport, the energy sector and households with emissions from agriculture also projected to decrease.

These emission reductions are to be achieved through a range of actions, committed to in the Climate Action Plan.

These measures overall are projected to contribute to emissions savings of 79Mt CO2 equivalent by 2030, the agency notes.

Regarding transport, the EPA says “almost one million electric vehicles on our roads by 2030, including 840,000 passenger EVs and 95,000 electric vans and trucks, will help achieve a projected decrease in emissions from the sector of 38% over the period to 2030”.

Meanwhile, with agriculture, the EPA says: “A reduction of at least 16.5Mt CO2 equivalent between 2021 and 2030, by implementing the measures such as low emission slurry spreading (LESS) techniques and switching to stabilised urea fertilisers for crops and pasture.”

On the energy front, the agency expects 70% renewable energy in electricity generation; the installation of 600,000 heat pumps and the retrofitting of 500,000 homes for improved energy efficiency. This, the EPA predicts, should deliver by 2030 an estimated 34% reduction in energy industries emissions, a 53% reduction in residential emissions and a 36% reduction in commercial and public services emissions.

Increased ambition at national and EU level to keep the global temperature increase to 1.5° will, however, necessitate a further step-up, additional to the Climate Action Plan, in the pace and scale of emission reductions, the EPA warns.

In addition, achievement of a low carbon pathway for Ireland and meeting future targets relies on maximising the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through improved land management of, for example, forestry, grasslands and wetlands.

Commenting, Stephen Treacy, senior manager with the EPA, said:

Appropriate land management is a vital part of action on climate change, not just in Ireland but also across Europe and globally.

“Where land management is providing a store of carbon, this should be maintained or enhanced. Where land management is resulting in emissions of CO2, this source should be reduced or eliminated, and where land is degraded or has lost its ability to absorb or store carbon dioxide, it should be restored,” he concluded.