Northern Ireland greenhouse gas statistics 1990-2020 released

Date published: 07 June 2022

A statistical bulletin on greenhouse gas emissions for Northern Ireland, during the period 1990-2020, has been published today by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

DARD statistics

The statistical bulletin outlines key Northern Ireland figures from the Greenhouse Gas Inventories for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The estimates were produced by Ricardo Energy and Environment on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the Welsh Assembly, Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

The key points are:

  • In 2020, Northern Ireland’s net greenhouse gas emissions were estimated to be 20.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e). This net figure is a result of an estimated 22.0 MtCO2e total emissions, offset by 1.1 MtCO2e of emissions removed through sequestration.
  • The net figure of 20.9 MtCO2e, in 2020, represents a decrease of 4.2% compared with 2019.  The longer-term trend showed a decrease of 23.9% compared with emissions in 1990.
  • In 2020, agriculture was the largest emitting sector, responsible for 26.6% of emissions.  Transport contributed 16.2% to overall emissions, whilst the residential, energy supply and business sectors contributed 13.7%, 13.6% and 13.4%, respectively.   
  • The largest decreases between 2019 and 2020, in terms of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, were in the transport (-0.9 MtCO2e) and residential (-0.1 MtCO2e) sectors.
  • The decline in transport emissions reflects the travel restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reduction in travel is reflected across all vehicle types, but particularly passenger cars and buses.
  • The decline in residential emissions was driven by fuel switching from coal to natural gas, displacing more carbon intensive fuels.
  • Northern Ireland accounted for 5.2% of UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. In the UK there has been a 49.9% reduction in emissions between the base year and 2020. During the same period, the reduction in emissions in Northern Ireland was 23.9%, compared to 52.6% in England, 51.0% in Scotland and 40.0% in Wales.  

Download the statistical bulletin containing more detail from the DAERA website



Notes to editors: 

  1. This is the thirteenth release of the Northern Ireland greenhouse gas inventory statistical bulletin.  It will continue to be updated annually.  The data were produced by Ricardo Energy and Environment, on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
  2. Emissions are reported for seven greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3). Depending on their molecular weights, radiative properties and residence times in the atmosphere, each greenhouse gas has a different capacity to cause global warming. The base year is 1990 for carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, and 1995 for the fluorinated gases. The fluorinated gases are hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride.
  3. All emission figures presented in this press release are taken from the by source inventory, which attributes emissions to the sector (and region) that produces them. There is also an end user inventory which reallocates the emissions by source in accordance with where the end user activity occurred, i.e. emissions from power stations would be reallocated to the users of this electricity, e.g. domestic homes and industry.
  4. The greenhouse gas emission estimates are based on a wide range of data sources and sources of uncertainty include statistical differences, assumptions, proxy datasets and expert judgement. In addition, the natural variability in the processes that are being modelled introduce uncertainty. For example, carbon content of fuels and farming practices under different climatic conditions and soil types. The uncertainties are presented as confidence intervals. The width of the interval provides a measure of the accuracy of the estimate. For the percentage reduction between the base year and 2020, the 95% confidence interval ranges from 16% to 34%.
  5. These statistics are released according to the Statement of Compliance with the Pre-release access to Official Statistics Order (NI) 2009. Official Statistics are produced to a high professional standard. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.
  6. UK greenhouse gas inventory National Statistics user guide provides a simple guide to the origins and use of data in the compilation of the UK Greenhouse Gas Inventory. This guide can be accessed through the Department of Energy and Climate Change website.
  7. Follow DAERA on Twitter at and Facebook.
  8. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office:
  9. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours’ service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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