Agriculture remains Northern Ireland’s highest emitting sector, new figures from the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs show.
The latest Inventory of Greenhouse Gases details emissions in 2020.
It says that agriculture is the only sector that has shown an increase from the base year of 1990, with all other sectors reducing their emissions.
Overall, Northern Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 24% between 1990 and 2020.
Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which include carbon dioxide and methane, trap heat so it doesn’t escape into space.
The emissions estimates in this report cover 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 of 1990, that’s an increase of 7%.
The other largest sectors—transportation, residential, energy supply, trade and land use, land use change, and forestry—have shown a decline in that time.
According to projections released Thursday, agriculture is expected to see a decline of just 1% between 2020 and 2031.
But its share of emissions is projected to rise to 32% by 2031, as “other sectors reduce emissions at a faster rate.”
The inventory estimated 2020 emissions at 21 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e).
This was a 24% decrease on the 28 MtCO2e emitted in the 1990 base year.
In the coming years, emissions are expected to decline year on year, with an estimated overall reduction of 13% by 2031.
The report said the downward trend was mainly driven by the power supply sector, as electricity generation shifts away from using fossil fuels and shifts to using more gas and renewable generation.
He added that the business sector will contribute almost a third (31%) of the overall emission reduction from 2020 to 2031.
From the base year to 2020, emissions from transportation decreased by 2%.
They are projected to decline by 8% between 2020 and 2031, largely driven by the expected increase in electric vehicles and changes in vehicle carbon dioxide 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 have fallen by 23% between 1990 and 2020, with a 24% decrease expected between 2020 and 2031.
And emissions from power supply have been cut by almost half (46%), with a slower rate of reduction projected from 2020 to 2031.