Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions have risen more than anywhere else in the EU, according to the latest comparable data.

In the first quarter of this year, Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions were up nearly 10 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Emissions fell in most other EU member states.

Only Latvia performed nearly as badly as Ireland.

There had been concerns that the recovery of European economies after the covid crisis would lead to pollution levels going back up.

Countries like Spain, Belgium and Austria seem to have broken that link.

Whilst their economies grew, they still managed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Across the EU as a whole, greenhouse gas emissions totalled 941 million tonnes, a decrease of 2.9 per cent compared with the same quarter last year. At the same time, the EU economy grew by 1.2 per cent.

But in Ireland, where the economy grew, so too did our levels of pollution.

According to the Sustainable Energy Authority, Ireland has “committed to reducing its CO₂ emissions by 4.8% per annum from 2021- 2025”.

In 2022, Ireland produced the equivalent of 60 million tonnes of carbon dioxide 

Agriculture and the burning of fossil fuels are the main causes of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland points out that the energy emissions from transport and manufacturing is “sensitive to economic growth”.

But that is not the case for Ireland’s important service sector.

“Unlike most manufacturing, the services sector has lower energy use per unit of value added, and can significantly increase the value of its output without leading to a large increase in energy use.”