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In 2021, Growth In Agricultural Activity Driving Increased Ammonia Emissions in Ireland.

  • Ireland’s ammonia emissions increased by 1% in 2021 as the impact of higher livestock numbers and fertiliser use outpaced the impact of emission reduction measures currently being implemented at farm level.
  • Ireland is non-compliant with our EU Emissions Reduction commitment in 2021 for Ammonia. Compliance with the 2030 Reduction Commitment is only possible with full implementation of all identified measures, such as low emissions slurry spreading, and widespread use of inhibited urea fertiliser products.
  • The use of coal and fuel oil in power generation trebled in 2021, leading to increases in emissions of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Particulate Matter (PM2.5) and Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), showing the direct link between fossil fuel use and air pollutant emissions.
  • Ireland was compliant in 2021 with EU emissions reduction commitments for the other key air pollutants; non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5).
  • Additional actions are needed to reduce emissions of non-methane volatile organic compounds in the spirit production sector.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today published its 2021 assessment of five key air pollutants which impact air quality, health and the environment.
The pollutants are:

  • ammonia,
  • non-methane volatile organic compounds
  • sulphur dioxide
  • nitrogen oxides
  • fine particulate matter

Ammonia emissions increased in 2021 by nearly 1%. Growth in livestock numbers, including a 3% increase in dairy cow numbers, led to an increase in total national ammonia emissions. Increased use of low emission slurry spreading to 48% was not sufficient to counteract the impact of the overall growth in livestock numbers.
Ireland has not complied with EU National Emission Reduction Commitments for 9 of the past 10 years for ammonia emissions, which cause significant environmental damage to valuable ecosystems and can also impact local air quality and human health.
Commenting on the report Dr Eimear Cotter, (Director of the EPA’s Office of Evidence and Assessment) said: “The EPA’s assessment shows that the impact of good practices that are currently being implemented at the farm level, such as low emission slurry spreading and the use of protected urea, are not enough to counteract the impact of increased livestock numbers and fertiliser use.
More and faster uptake of known measures is needed.
While compliance with the EU 2030 targets for ammonia is possible, it will be tight and is at risk should anything less than full implementation of all measures be delivered, or if the level of activity in the sector exceeds projections“
.

The use of coal and fuel oil in power generation trebled in 2021, which led to increases in emissions of NOx, PM2.5 and SO2, illustrating the direct link between fossil fuel use and air pollutant emissions . Emissions of NOx increased by 3% overall, driven by increased fossil fuel use in power generation. These increases masked a decrease in NOx emissions from transport of almost 4% in 2021 reflecting a continued improvement in vehicle NOx abatement technologies.

Commenting on the findings Mr Stephen Treacy, (Senior Manager) said: “The data shows the direct link between fossil fuel use and air pollutant emissions, highlighting the importance of accelerating Ireland’s transition towards renewables for the generation of heat and electricity, which will benefit both the climate and air quality”.
Emissions of non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) increased by 2% in 2021, driven largely by increased activity in spirit production for beverages. While compliance with the NMVOC emission reduction commitment has been achieved, effective abatement measures for this source are needed if future emissions reduction targets are to be met.
For further detail on these figures, see the EPA report Ireland’s Air Pollutant Emissions 1990-2030 HERE.
For further information contact: Ms Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office TEL: 053-9170770 (24 hours) or media@epa.ie

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