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  • Air quality in Ireland has improved since 1990 for some indicators such as sulphur dioxide and ammonia. In 2014, emissions for sulphur dioxide and ammonia were below the National Emissions Ceiling under the NEC Directive. However, emissions of nitrogen oxides and non-methane volatile organic compounds were respectively 15% and 58% above their prescribed ceiling in 2014.
  • However, when examined against the emissions of other EU member states in 2014, based on their progress towards the 2010 NEC Directive Ireland ranked 22nd for sulphur oxides, 26th for nitrogen oxides 16th for ammonia, and 28th for NMVOC emissions in 2014.

Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change

  • Greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland have fallen by 17% from 70.4 million tonnes of C02 equivalent in 2005 to 58.3 million tonnes in 2014.
  • Ireland experienced the eight biggest decline in emissions among EU Member States over the 2005-2013 period. Agriculture accounted for a third of greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland in 2014. Other important sectors in 2014 included Transport (19%), Energy (19%), and Industry and Commercial (16%).
  • Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions on a per capita basis were the third highest in the EU in 2013.


  • Ireland ranked 19th among EU member states in terms of compliance with bathing water quality guide values in 2014.
  • In 2014, 99.9% of public drinking water supplies in Ireland complied with E. coli standards and 93% with Trihalomethane standards.
  • 95% of urban waste water in Ireland received secondary treatment or higher in 2014.

Land Use

  • In 2015, 10.9% of Ireland’s land was covered by forestry. This was the second lowest coverage rate in the EU.
  • Although the area farmed organically increased by almost 180% between 1997 and 2014, Ireland had the second lowest percentage of agricultural land designated as organic in the EU in 2013.
  • Ireland had the fourth largest cattle herd in the EU in 2015 with 7.2% of total cattle numbers.
  • Dwelling completions in Ireland peaked in 2006 with 93,400 completions and fell to 8,300 in 2013 before recovering to 11,000 in 2014. In 2015, there were 2.7 house completions per 1,000 population in Ireland.


  • Ireland’s primary energy requirement increased from 9.5 million tonnes of oil equivalent in 1990 to 16.3 million tonnes in 2008, before declining to 13.3 million tonnes in 2014.
  • Transport accounted for 42% of Ireland’s final energy consumption in 2014.
  • Renewable energy accounted for 6% of Ireland’s total final energy consumption and for 23% of electricity generation in 2014.
  • Ireland had an imported energy dependency of 85% in 2014, the fourth highest in the EU.


  • There has been a substantial increase in the number of low emission vehicles licensed since the introduction in 2008 of motor taxation rates based upon emissions. In 2015, 95% of new private cars licensed were in emission bands A and B, compared with 12% in 2005.
  • There was a substantial fall in the number of international air passengers travelling through Irish airports from 31.3 million passengers in 2007 to 23.5 million in 2011, before recovering to 26.4 million in 2014.
  • The proportion of women aged 15 years or over at work who drove to work increased from 27% in 1986 to 66% in 2011. In contrast, the corresponding proportions for men were 42% in 1986 and 55% in 2011.


  • The amount of municipal waste generated in Ireland fell from 800 kilograms per capita in 2006 to 587 in 2012.
  • Municipal waste sent to landfill in Ireland was 1.0 million tonnes in 2012, which was a decrease of 48.4% compared with the 2.0 million tonnes sent to landfill in 2001.
  • In 2013, Ireland recovered 189 kilograms of packaging waste per capita, which was the fourth highest rate in the EU after Germany, Luxembourg and Italy.

 Biodiversity and Heritage

  • The index of common bird species in Ireland increased from a baseline of 100 in 1998 to 104.6 in 2014.
  • In 2011 Ireland had the ninth smallest area in the EU designated as Special Protected Areas under the EU Birds Directive. Ireland had the eight smallest area in 2013 in the EU designated as Special Conservation Areas under the EU Habitats Directive.

 Environmental Economy

  • Revenue from environmental taxation in Ireland increased from €4.1 billion in 2010 to €4.9 billion in 2015 and stood at 8.0% of total taxation revenue in 2015.
  • Ireland’s Domestic Material Consumption fell by 49% between 2007 and 2012 before rising by 10.3% in 2013. This pattern is primarily driven by the pattern of construction activity in the State.
  • In 2014, Ireland had the second highest level of sea fish landings per capita in the EU.

For further information contact:

Reamonn McKeever + 353 1 4984212 or Berna Lawlor + 353 1 4984210


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CSO statistical publication, , 11am

On-line ISSN: 2009-9533