Statistical Press Release - Carbon Intensity Indicators published

Date published: 21 November 2023

Northern Ireland (NI) carbon intensity indicators 2023 are now available.

DARD statistics

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 carbon reduction policies.

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• Gross Value Added (GVA) is used to measure NI's economic output, since 1998 it has grown substantially, while greenhouse gas emissions have declined. The ratio of total greenhouse gas emissions to GVA, in NI, decreased 66% from 1998 to 2021.

• In 2021, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity for NI was estimated at around 0.49 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent per £ of GVA. In 1998 this figure stood at 1.43 kilograms.

• GHG emissions per capita decreased 36% from 18.3 tonnes CO2 equivalent per person in 1990 to 11.8 tonnes in 2021. The population increased by 19% over this period, while greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 23%.

• GHG emissions per unit of electricity generated decreased 51% from 658 grams CO2 per kWh in 2004 to 322 grams in 2021. This has been driven by the growth of renewable energy generation in NI, a shift away from coal use towards gas for electricity generation, and improvements in energy efficiency.

• Residential GHG emissions per household have decreased 9% from 3.76 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per household in 2008 to 3.42 tonnes in 2021.Fuel switching to natural gas from more carbon-intensive fuels such as coal and oil has reduced emissions, but more households create greater demand for energy.

• The average CO2 emissions from licensed cars has declined over the years from 149.8 g/km in 2014 to 132.3g/km in 2022.

• Total emissions (excluding sequestration) related to milk production decreased from an average of 1,927 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilogram of Energy Corrected Milk (ECM) in 1990 to 1,214 grams in 2021. Whilst milk production in the dairy sector has expanded by 92% since 1990, the total number of dairy cows over this period has increased by only 15%, meaning this improvement in carbon footprint has been driven by substantial increases in milk yield per cow.

• Waste management emissions per capita have decreased 67% from 1,260 kilograms of CO2 equivalent per person in 1990 to 416 kilograms in 2021. The population increased by 19% over this period while greenhouse gas emissions from waste management fell by 61%, due in a large part to the introduction of methane capture and oxidation systems at landfill sites.

Notes to editors: 

  1. This is the eighth 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 above 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 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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