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Statistics show improvements in Ireland's environment


Better air quality, improved drinking water quality, increased recycling of packaging waste, an increase in the use of renewable energy and an increase in the numbers of low emission vehicles are some of the changes in Ireland’s environmental indicators in recent years.


These findings are from Environmental Indicators 2014 published by the CSO today. The report paints a broadly positive picture of progress in Ireland’s environment across nine different domains.


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 sulphur dioxides, ammonia and Non- methane volatile organic compounds in 2012. Only nitrogen oxide levels were above the NEC levels in 2012.


  • The number of new low emission vehicles licensed has increased substantially since the introduction in 2008 of new motor tax rates based on emissions. In 2013, 93% of new private vehicles licensed were in emission bands A and B, compared with 57% in 2008.


  • Drinking water quality is generally high in Ireland with 99.9% of public drinking water supplies and 98.2% of group water supplies complying with E.coli standards in 2012. However, Ireland ranked eighteenth in the EU in terms of bathing water quality in 2012.


  • Almost 20% of electricity generated in 2012 was from renewable sources. This was the 13th highest proportion in the EU.


  • The amount of municipal waste sent to landfill fell from two million tonnes in 2007 to 1.3 million tonnes in 2011. Ireland had the seventh highest rate of waste sent to landfill in the EU in 2011.


  • Ireland had the fifth highest rate of packaging recycling, and the third highest rate of household electrical waste collection in the EU in 2011, in terms of kgs per capita.


  • Between 2008 and 2012, Ireland was 2.1 million tonnes above the five year average limit for Greenhouse gases set by the Kyoto Protocol. Greenhouse gases per capita in Ireland were the fourth highest in the EU in 2011.


  • Ireland remains heavily dependent on energy imports – with an import dependency ratio in 2012 of 85% - the fourth highest in the EU. Oil accounted for 57% of Ireland’s final energy consumption in 2012.


  • Consumer prices of energy products have continued to rise. Electricity prices were 40% higher in 2013 compared with 2006. Petrol prices rose by 42% over the same period.


  • Ireland had the second smallest area of land used for growing crops organically in the EU in 2012, at 1.2% of total agricultural land.



Editor’s note: Environmental Indicators Ireland 2014 is available on the CSO web site (



This report may be purchased from:


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


Price €5.00


For further information contact:


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



Central Statistics Office                                                                  28 May 2014




– ENDS –