NI milk production emissions have decreased over the last 19 years

Northern Ireland’s carbon intensity indicators 2021 show the total emissions related to milk production here have decreased over the past 19 years.

Emissions have dropped from a population average of 1,927 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilogram (energy-corrected milk) in 1990 to 1,240 grams in 2019.

Whilst milk production in the dairy sector has expanded by 81 per cent since 1990, the total number of dairy cows over this period has increased by only 13 per cent, meaning this improvement in carbon footprint has been driven by substantial increases in milk yield per cow.

The publication, which is now available on the DAERA website, was produced by Statistics and Analytical Services Branch in the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs 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 projections, and to help government track the effectiveness of their carbon reduction policies.

Gross Value Added (GVA) is used to measure Northern Ireland’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 Northern Ireland decreased 62 per cent from 1998 to 2019.

In 2019, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity for NI was estimated at around 0.51 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent per £ of GVA.

In 1998 this figure stood at 1.34 kilograms.

GHG emissions per capita decreased 31 per cent, from 16.3 tonnes CO2 equivalent in 1990 to 11.3 tonnes in 2019.

The population increased by 19 per cent over this period, while greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 18 per cent.

GHG emissions per unit of electricity generated decreased 48 per cent, from 631 grams CO2 equivalent per kWh in 2004 to 330 grams in 2019.

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 have decreased four per cent, from 3.78 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per household in 2008 to 3.63 tonnes in 2019.

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.

Road transport emissions per vehicle kilometre travelled decreased 11 per cent, from 244 grams of CO2 equivalent per vehicle kilometre travelled in 2008 to 218 in 2019.

Waste management emissions per capita have decreased 66 per cent, from 1,135 kilograms of CO2 equivalent per person in 1990 to 385 kilograms in 2019.

The population increased by 19 per cent over this period, while greenhouse gas emissions from waste management have fallen by 60 per cent, due in a large part to the introduction of methane capture and oxidation systems at landfill sites.

The publication is available on the DAERA website at: