Carbon intensity indicators published

Date published: 22 October 2020

Northern Ireland (NI) carbon intensity indicators 2020 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 NI greenhouse gas projections, and to help Government track the effectiveness of their carbon reduction policies.

The publication is available on the DAERA website.

  • Gross Value Added (GVA) is used to measure NI's economic output, and over the 20 years shown it has grown substantially, while greenhouse gas emissions have been in decline. The ratio of total greenhouse gas emissions to GVA, in NI, decreased 63% from 1998 to 2018.
  • In 2018, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity for NI was estimated at around 0.46 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent per £ of GVA. In 1998 this figure stood at 1.24 kilograms.
  • GHG emissions per capita decreased 32% from 15.2 tonnes CO2 equivalent per person in 1990 to 10.3 tonnes in 2018. The population increased by 18% over this period, while greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 20%. 
  • GHG emissions per unit of electricity generated decreased 46% from 631 grams CO2 per kWh in 2004 to 339 grams in 2018. This has been driven by the growth of renewable generation in NI, a shift away from coal use towards gas for electricity generation, and improvements in energy efficiency.
  • Residential GHG emissions per household decreased 17% over the past eight years from a peak of 4.21 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per household in 2010 to 3.48 tonnes in 2018. 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 licensed cars decreased 9% from 149.8 grams of CO2 per km in 2014 to 136.6 grams in 2019. This decrease came about due to a higher proportion of cars with lower emission ratings. In 2014, 26% of licensed cars had CO2 emissions of a maximum of 130 grams per kilometre compared with a rate of 49% in 2019.
  • Total emissions (excluding sequestration) related to milk production decreased from a population average of 1,927 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilogram (Energy Corrected Milk-ECM) in 1990 to 1,279 grams in 2018. Whilst milk production in the dairy sector has expanded by 78% since 1990, the total number of dairy cows over this period has increased by only 12%, meaning this improvement in carbon footprint has been driven by substantial increases in milk yield per cow.
  • Waste management emissions per capita have decreased 64% from 1,166 kilograms of CO2 equivalent per person in 1990 to 417 kilograms in 2018. The population increased by 18% over this period while greenhouse gas emissions from waste management have fallen by 58%, due in a large part to the introduction of methane capture and oxidation systems at landfill sites.

Notes to editors: 

  1. This is the fifth release of the NI Carbon Intensity Indicators. It is intended that the indicators will be updated on an annual basis.
  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 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. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.
  7. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office.
  8. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hour’s service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

Share this page

Back to top