ESRI: Environment Review 2012

The ESRI report, Environment Review 2012, presents projections of environmental emissions such as greenhouse gases, waste generation, and nutrients from agriculture covering the period to 2030.

  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions:  Ireland will comply with its Kyoto Protocol target covering the period 2008-2012 but compliance with longer term targets will be much more difficult.  Without significant policy intervention we project actual emissions will substantially exceed the policy target.
  • Food Harvest 2020:  Implementation of the Food Harvest 2020 strategy is projected to increase emissions from livestock by 1 million tonnes per annum in 2020.  Ireland has a comparative advantage in beef and dairy production and has the potential to expand output and employment; however, the current mechanism for managing emissions within the sector is a threat to realising those benefits.
  • Industrial Sector:  Greenhouse gases emitted in industrial production processes, could increase from 1 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions at present to over 4 per cent within a decade. The current review of the European regulation an opportune time to amend current controls and prevent substantial emissions growth from occurring.
  • Peat:  Carbon dioxide emissions per unit energy are double the rate from gas and nearly 1.6 times higher compared to oil.  The phase out of peat in electricity generation would make a contribution to emissions reduction without significant negative impact on competitiveness.  A phase out of peat as a fuel would also reduce particulate emissions, which have an adverse impact on health.
  • Renewables have the benefit of lower greenhouse gas emissions but are not without their environmental problems (e.g. particulates emissions from biomass fuels).  To achieve a dramatic increase in renewable energy, a wider review of renewable policy at EU level and its impact on competitiveness and environmental benefits is merited.
  • Water Quality:  Expansion of dairy production by 50 per cent will lead to an additional 22,000 tonnes of excreted nitrogen per annum in 2020 compared to a no-strategy baseline. Many water bodies are already subject to high levels of nutrient enrichment under current levels of production.  he establishment of a system to verify implementation of best practice for nutrient management within agriculture would assist expansion in the sector while protecting environmental quality.
  • Waste Management:  Waste generation may be substantially higher in the future due to economic recovery, increased employment, as well as projected growth in the population.  Regional waste management plans, which are currently being reviewed, will need to reflect anticipated growth in waste