New carbon intensity indicators are published

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The Statistics and Analytical Services Branch in the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs has published details of 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. The publication is available on the DAERA website at: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/northern-ireland-carbon-intensity-indicators-2018

Greenhouse gas emissions per capita decreased 28% from 15.3 tonnes CO2 equivalent per person in 1990 to 11.0 tCO2e per person in 2016. The population increased by 17% over this period, while greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 16%.

The ratio of total greenhouse gas emissions to gross value added (GVA) in Northern Ireland decreased 57% from 1.26 kgCO2e/£ in 1998 to 0.54kg CO2e/£ in 2016. GVA is used here to measure NI’s economic output, and over the 18 years shown it has grown substantially, while greenhouse gas emissions have been in decline.

Greenhouse gas emissions per unit of electricity generated decreased 22% from 631gCO2/kWh in 2004 to 492gCO2/kWh in 2016. 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 17% over the past five years from a peak of 4.21 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per household in 2010 to 3.48 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.

Road transport emissions per vehicle kilometre travelled increased 1% from 243 gCO2e per vehicle kilometre travelled in 2008 to 246 gCO2e in 2016. The change was driven by a decrease in road transport greenhouse gas emissions which was due to improvements in average fuel efficiency of vehicles. Vehicle kilometres travelled have been steady over the eight years.

Total emissions (excluding sequestration) related to milk production decreased from a population average of 1,927 (CO2e/kg ECM) in 1990 to 1285 (CO2e/kg ECM) in 2016. Whilst milk production in the dairy sector has expanded by 66% since 1990, the total number of dairy cows over this period has remained relatively static, meaning this improvement has been driven by substantial increases in milk yield per cow.

Waste management emissions per capita have decreased 64% from 1,166kgCO2e per person in 1990 to 422 kgCO2e per person in 2016. The population increased by 17% 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.