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National energy related emissions decrease by 7.3% in Ireland

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The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has published their Interim National Energy Balance for 2023, stating that national energy related emissions have decreased by 7.3%, reaching their lowest level in 30 years.

According to the data, Ireland’s progress does not however align with the country’s 2021-2025 carbon budget, with analysis indicating that the overall emissions targets will only be met if emissions reduce by more than 11% for 2024 and 2025.

SEAI estimates that emissions from electricity generation were down by 21% in 2023 largely due to an increased use of electricity imported through international interconnectors – a 12 fold increase on the previous year – which accounted for 9.5% of electricity supply in 2023, making it the third largest source of electricity in Ireland after natural gas and wind. 

New renewable energy generation records were also set last year, including 11.7 TWh of wind power and a 300% increase in white solar electricity – a relatively new type of system that can be customised to ‘blend in’ with a building’s facade. Despite these records, just 1.9% of Ireland’s electricity came from solar last year, plus a further 27% more wind capacity is reportedly required if the country is to achieve its’ 2025 targets. Over 80% of the country’s electricity is still sourced from fossil fuels.

The transport sector was also highlighted in the report, where “collective action is needed urgently”, as a result of emissions from this source almost fully returning to pre-COVID levels. The SEAI noted that better land use planning is required to tackle the decarbonisation of this sector, as well as a shift towards active travel and public transport, and more efficient and renewable modes of private transport. 

Margie McCarthy, Director of Research and Policy Insights at SEAI said: 

“Firstly, the reduction in energy-related emissions in 2023 is encouraging, it shows movement in the right direction in some sectors. It is clear from the data that pace is critical. We have no time to wait. SEAI’s mission is to be at the heart of Ireland’s energy revolution, and that revolution needs fast action right across Irish society to meet our legally binding climate targets. We must redouble our collective efforts to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. This must be driven by increased Government supports, full and timely realisation of our climate action plans, and importantly support from wider society through citizen and community action. We will only create the change needed if we tackle this together as an urgent priority.”

“It’s crucial that we reduce our energy demand by using less where we can and shifting our current fossil fuel use in all sectors to renewables. We have to get out of our cars more and consider our air miles. The benefits of collective action to curb our fossil fuel use will create a better Ireland, with improved air quality, more comfortable homes, more vibrant communities, and an economy built on sustainable industries and jobs.”

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