Agriculture NI’s sector with the highest greenhouse gas emissions


Greenhouse gas emissions have decreased in NI, but agriculture remains the highest emitting sector

Agriculture remains the highest emitting sector in Northern Ireland, according to new figures from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

The latest Greenhouse Gas Inventory details emissions in 2020.

It says agriculture is the only sector to show an increase since the base year of 1990, while all other sectors have reduced their emissions.

Overall, Northern Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 24% between 1990 and 2020.

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide and methane, trap heat escaping to space.

The emission estimates in this report relate to seven greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride.

Agriculture was responsible for 28% of local emissions in 2020.

Compared to the base year 1990, this is an increase of 7%.

The other largest sectors – transport, housing, energy supply, business and land use, land use change and forestry – show a decline during that time.

Based on projections released on Thursday, agriculture is expected to decline by just 1% between 2020 and 2031.

But the share of emissions is expected to rise to 32% by 2031 as “other sectors reduce emissions faster”.

The inventory estimated emissions for 2020 at 21 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e).

This was a 24% decrease from the 28 MtCO2e emitted in the base year 1990.

Renewable generation

In the coming years, emissions are expected to decrease each year, with an overall estimated reduction of 13% by 2031.

The report said the downward trend was mainly driven by the energy supply sector as electricity generation moves away from fossil fuel use and shifts to using more gas and renewable generation.

It added that business will contribute nearly a third (31%) to the overall reduction in emissions from 2020 to 2031.

From the base year to 2020, transport emissions fell by 2%.

They are expected to decrease by 8% between 2020 and 2031, largely due to the projected increase in electric vehicles and changes in vehicle CO2 regulations.

The sector contributed 16% of emissions in 2020 and is expected to have a similar share (17%) in 2031.

Emissions from the residential sector fell by 23% between 1990 and 2020, with an expected decrease of 24% between 2020 and 2031.

And emissions from the energy supply have decreased by almost half (46%), with a slower pace from 2020 to 2031.

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