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Statistics show overall improvement in Ireland's environment


Better air quality, a fall in greenhouse gas emissions, improved water quality, a fall in the amount of waste being sent to landfill, and an increase in the numbers of low emission vehicles are some of the areas which show the quality of Ireland’s environment has improved over recent years.


These are some of the findings in Environmental Indicators 2012 published by the CSO today. The report paints a broadly positive picture of progress in Ireland’s environment across nine different domains. Reduced levels of economic activity since 2008 have eased pressure on some resources, while national policy changes and EU legislation have driven other improvements.


Some of the main findings are:


  • Air quality improved considerably in the decade since 2000 with the result that Ireland was below the EU National Emission Ceiling (NEC) Directive level for three pollutants in 2010. Only nitrogen oxide levels were above the NEC levels in 2010.
  • Greenhouse gas levels fell substantially in 2009, and fell again in 2010, meaning that Ireland is only slightly above the five years average limit set by the Kyoto Protocol. Greenhouse gases per capita in Ireland were the second highest in the EU in 2009. The fall in greenhouse gas emissions in 2009 across the EU was mainly due to a reduction in energy and transport usage as a result of the economic downturn.
  • Ireland remains heavily dependent on energy imports – with an import dependency ratio in 2009 of 89% - the fourth highest in the EU. Oil accounted for 60% of Ireland’s final energy consumption in 2010. The economic downturn meant that Ireland’s final energy consumption fell by 10% between 2008 and 2010.
  • The number of low emission vehicles licensed has increased substantially since the introduction in 2008 of new motor tax rates based on emissions. In 2011, 90% of new private vehicles licensed were in emission bands A and B.
  • The amount of municipal waste sent to landfill fell from two million tonnes in 2007 to 1.5 million tonnes in 2010, due mainly to the economic downturn. Landfill accounted for 58% of all municipal waste in 2010 compared with the EU average of 38%.
  • In 2010, 10.7% of Ireland’s land area was covered by forestry, which was the second lowest proportion of forest cover in the EU. Ireland had the third lowest level of organic agricultural land in the EU in 2009, at 1.2% of total agricultural land.
  • Water quality is generally high in Ireland with 99.8% of public drinking water supplies and 95.9% of group water supplies complying with E.coli standards in 2010. Ireland ranked fourth in the EU in terms of bathing water quality in 2010.


Editor’s note: Environmental Indicators Ireland 2012 is available on the CSO web site 

This report may be purchased from:


The Central Statistics Office, Information Section, Skehard Road, Cork


Government Publications Sales Office, Sun Alliance House, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2


Price €5.00


For further information contact:


Ciarán Counihan (01 498 4215) or Gerry Brady (01 498 4201).


Central Statistics Office                                                                                                                                 30 March 2012


– ENDS –