Carbon intensity indicators published

Date published: 24 October 2019

Northern Ireland carbon intensity indicators 2019 are now available.

DARD report

This publication was produced by Statistics and Analytical Services Branch in the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and contains carbon intensity and supporting indicators. They have been released to complement the emissions data available from the historic greenhouse gas inventory and the Northern Ireland greenhouse gas projection tool, and to help Government track the effectiveness of their carbon reduction policies.

Download the Northern Ireland carbon indicators 2019.

  • Greenhouse gas emissions per capita decreased 30% from 15.2 tonnes CO2 equivalent per person in 1990 to 10.7 tCO2e per person in 2017. The population increased by 17% over this period, while greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 18%. 
  • The ratio of total greenhouse gas emissions to gross value added (GVA) in Northern Ireland decreased 59% from 1.24 kgCO2e/£ in 1998 to 0.50kg CO2e/£ in 2017. GVA is used here to measure NI's economic output, and over the 19 years shown it has grown substantially, while greenhouse gas emissions have been in decline.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions per unit of electricity generated decreased 36% from 631gCO2/kWh in 2004 to 406gCO2/kWh in 2017. This has been driven by the growth of renewable generation in Northern Ireland, a shift away from coal use towards gas for electricity generation, and improvements in energy efficiency.
  • Residential greenhouse gas emissions per household decreased 20% over the past seven years from a peak of 4.21 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per household in 2010 to 3.38 tonnes of CO2e in 2016. Fuel switching to natural gas from more carbon-intensive fuels such as coal and oil has reduced emissions, but more households creates greater demand for energy.
  • Average CO2 emissions from licenced cars decreased 7% from 149.8 CO2 (g/km) in 2014 to 138.6 CO2 (g/km) in 2018. The change was driven by improvements in average fuel efficiency of cars.
  • Total emissions (excluding sequestration) related to milk production decreased from a population average of 1,927 (CO2e/kg ECM) in 1990 to 1,272 (CO2e/kg ECM) in 2017. Whilst milk production in the dairy sector has expanded by 73% since 1990, the total number of dairy cows over this period has increased by only 14%, meaning this improvement in carbon footprint has been driven by substantial increases in milk yield per cow.
  • Waste management emissions per capita have decreased 63% from 1,166kgCO2e per person in 1990 to 430 kgCO2e per person in 2017. The population increased by 17% over this period while greenhouse gas emissions from waste management have fallen by 57%, due in a large part to the introduction of methane capture and oxidation systems at landfill sites.

Notes to editors: 

1. This is the fourth release of the Northern Ireland Carbon Intensity Indicators. It is intended that the indicators will be updated on an annual basis and commentary will be developed over time.

2. Rather than measuring absolute emissions levels, emissions intensity is concerned with capturing the amount of CO2 equivalent generated per unit of output or per capita, e.g., power sector emissions per unit of electricity generated or total NI emissions per head of population. The value of taking such an approach is that, whilst overall emissions might be seen to be increasing for a particular sector in line with an expanding economy, the carbon intensity might actually be decreasing which could still be viewed as a positive outcome. The carbon intensity indicators are therefore another way of measuring the progress being made in NI towards reducing greenhouse emissions in terms of intensity as opposed to absolute emissions.

3. The carbon intensity indicators are supplemented by a set of associated proxy indicators which, whilst not intensity indicators as such, are logically linked to emissions and/or emissions intensity levels.

4. This is an Official Statistics publication which follows the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

5. The data in this report come from a range of sources. Sources are stated underneath each table, and links are provided. Trend data have been presented from as far back as practically available and up to latest year available. In some cases data may only recently become available. In such cases the current year will be the base year with the trend building from that point onwards.

6. The indicators may be made available in alternative formats, please contact us to discuss your requirements: Statistics and Analytical Services Branch, Room 816, Dundonald House, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast, BT4 3SB, Telephone: 028 9054 0916, Email:

7. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.

8. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.

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