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Impact of COVID-19 restrictions on 2020 GHG

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Date: 21 Jan 2021

Short term emissions reductions due to the Covid 19 pandemic

The (Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) have jointly released an analysis of the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2020.

The estimates show a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of almost 6 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019, driven by a number of factors across the sectors including:

Transport: The Transport sector saw the biggest impact as a result of the severe movement restrictions due to COVID, both in absolute and percentage terms. Emissions from the Transport sector in 2020 are estimated to be over 2 Mt CO2eq less than 2019, a fall of almost 17 per cent. For the year to the end of October, petrol consumption was down 26 per cent compared to 2019, and diesel consumption was down 1 per cent.

Energy Industries: The estimates for 2020 indicate a substantial drop in emissions of 14 per cent compared to the 2019 level. Overall it is estimated that 1.3 Mt CO2eq less emissions less occurred from this sector in 2020 compared to 2019. Much of the estimated drop in emissions in 2020 cannot be directly attributed to the impact of the pandemic, but rather a declining trend in the amount of electricity produced using coal and peat.

Residential: These estimates show Residential emissions increased by 9per cent (0.6 Mt CO2eq) in 2020, largely due to the impact of people working from home.  2020 also saw low prices for home heating fuel, particularly in the early part of the year. For the year to the end of October, kerosene sales were up 23per cent in 2020 compared to 2019.

Other Sectors: While emissions across the Commercial and Public Services sectors and from Industry are also estimated to have fallen as a result of the decreased economic activity, Agriculture emissions are expected to have risen slightly as a result of increased fuel and fertiliser use.

The estimates are based on monthly indicator data, allowing for earlier estimation - compared to the more comprehensive annual data used by the EPA to produce Ireland’s GHG Inventory.

The full report is available HERE

As part of the EPAs Ireland in the Pandemic: Environmental Obserations report also examined the effect of lockdown across the following thematic areas: Air Quality, Waste, Pollutants & Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Water Environment, Enforcement & Compliance and Environmental Queries.