Ireland Energy and Environment Facts

Natural resources and energy

Ireland has large resources of zinc, and three major zinc mines are found on the island. There are also deposits of gold, plaster, limestone and dolomite. Some oil and gas discoveries have also been made in recent years, but no recovery has begun.

Oil was found in the sea at Barryroe in 2012, south of Cork, and can contain deposits of up to 1.6 billion barrels. Earlier oil discoveries off the south coast have proved too costly and difficult to exploit. New gas discoveries made in the sea west of Ireland have not yet been exploited.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Ireland with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.

In 2009, oil and gas accounted for 75 percent of energy demand. So far, all oil, especially from Norway, is imported. Gas is imported from the North Sea via a pipeline from Scotland. For a long time, the need for oil increased at a rapid pace, but in recent years consumption has decreased somewhat, partly because of reduced travel, less need for freight traffic on the roads and that more people have bought fuel-efficient cars.

Energy is also extracted from coal, hydropower and peat from the island’s many mosses. However, the use of coal and peat has decreased in recent years, while investments have been made in wind power.

One problem is that the peat bogs are shrinking due to climate change, which is particularly serious as they also play an important role in binding carbon dioxide. Efforts are also being made to reduce the use of peat to produce electricity.

  • Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, IE stands for Ireland. Visit itypeusa for more information about Ireland.

A dispute with the UK is Sellafield, a spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant on the British side of the Irish Sea. Ireland, together with Norway and Denmark, has pressed for the British to close Sellafield after reports of radioactive emissions.

Ireland signed the Kyoto Agreement in 1997, which aims to limit greenhouse gas emissions. For the period 2008 to 2012, Ireland had promised to reduce its emissions by 13 percent compared to the 1990 level, something the country seemed to be doing. However, Ireland appeared to have a harder time meeting EU climate targets to reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2017.

At the Paris 2015 climate summit, Ireland negotiated as part of the EU, and pledged, among other things, not to allow global temperatures to exceed 2 degrees. This will be done, among other things, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 compared with the 1990 level. Ireland pledged to reduce emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, but by the fall of 2019 it was clear that it would not be able to do so, thus risking being fined to the EU.


Energy use per person

2,855 kg of oil equivalent (2015)

Electricity consumption per person

5722 kilowatt hours, kWh (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions in total

34 066 thousand tonnes (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant

7.4 tonnes (2014)

The share of energy from renewable sources

9.1 percent (2015)



More and more people are applying for Irish passports

December 30

Ireland issues nearly 780,000 new passports during the year. This is an increase of 6 percent compared to 2016, and 15 percent compared with the previous year. Part of the increase is due to an increasing number of Brits with Irish roots applying for an Irish passport (nothing is said, however).

Ireland repays crisis loans

December 20

The Irish government has now repaid the crisis loans received from the IMF, EU, Denmark and Sweden in 2010. The Ministry of Finance hopes that by paying off its debts (just over EUR 5 billion) it will be able to save EUR 150 million in advance by taking new loans at lower interest rates.

Strong economic growth

December 15

The Irish economy continues to grow. When the figures for the third quarter of the year are presented, Ireland’s GDP has grown by over 10 percent, since the same time the year before. But just like 2015, the figure was considered inflated (it was also pointed out that the situation was difficult to interpret). According to the Irish statistical authority CSO, industrial production had increased by just over 5 percent and the information and communication sector by almost 6 percent. Credit rating agency Fitch also raises Ireland’s credit rating from A + to A.

Committee proposes liberal abortion law

13th of December

A parliamentary committee recommends that a referendum on abortion be held in 2018. The Committee proposes to abolish the eighth amendment to the Constitution, to allow abortion if a woman’s life or mental and physical health is in danger, and to introduce free abortion until 12: e week of pregnancy. According to the proposal, abortion should also be allowed if the fetus is so badly damaged that it cannot survive. There is no consensus within the committee on the various proposals, but there is a clear majority for a more liberal line. The government does not have to follow the committee’s proposals when it formulates its alternatives in a referendum. If it is to be held in May or June, a bill must be ready by mid-February.

Breakthrough in Brexit negotiations

December 8

British Prime Minister Theresa May and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announce a breakthrough in Brexit negotiations. The parties have now agreed that there should be no “hard border” between Northern Ireland and Ireland. Prime Minister Varadkar says he is pleased to have reached “a bullet-proof deal” containing all the elements required by the Irish government. Exactly what the settlement looks like is not known. Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP, who has opposed all special solutions for Northern Ireland, expresses his appreciation that there will be no new “red border” in the sea between Northern Ireland and the UK mainland, however, exceptions can be made if the Northern Ireland Parliament, Stormont, agree to it. May also promises to follow the agreements made in the 1998 Northern Ireland Peace Agreement.

Ireland is starting to collect tax from Apple

December 4th

In the first quarter of 2018, Apple will start paying the $ 13 billion the company owes, according to the European Commission, to the Irish state. The European Commission has ordered Apple to pay the money, as the tax relief granted to the technology company in Ireland was not allowed under EU rules. In practice, the company had only paid a corporate tax of 1 percent. In 2016, the European Commission ruled that Ireland must collect tax money. They will, for the time being, be paid into a special account, where they will be kept while Ireland appeals the Commission’s decision to the European Court of Justice.


Government crisis averted – Deputy Prime Minister resigns

November 28

Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald submits his resignation on the grounds that it is for the good of the nation and to avoid a new election that no one wants. However, she insists that she has done no wrong and that she is confident that she will be released by the tribunal led by Judge Peter Charleton, who will present her report in January. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar says he has reluctantly accepted her farewell application. Fitzgerald’s departure is also a success for Fianna Fáil’s leader Micheál Martin.

Calls are ongoing to avoid new elections

November 27th

Talks are underway between Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil’s leader Micheál Martin to resolve the political crisis. The discussions are described as constructive. The Irish public seems to prefer to avoid a fresh election, which is unlikely to change much in the strength of the parties. However, new revelations come about that Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald knew that corruption occurred within the police force a year earlier than she herself has said. She must have refrained from taking action against this, while at the same time defending the whistleblower Maurice McCabe outwardly. An Irish government crisis could hamper Brexit negotiations between the EU and the UK, where the issue of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland has proved difficult. If no progress is made, Ireland has threatened to veto its deliberations on trade issues. Now Foreign Minister Simon Coveney says it will not be needed as the other EU countries are behind the Irish line. At the same time, British Trade Minister Liam Fox emphasizes that the British will not resolve the border issue until they have been given a clearance for trade talks.

Government crisis threatens

November 23

The Irish minority government gets into crisis when the biggest opposition party Fianna Fáil threatens with a vote of no confidencein Parliament. The day before, Sinn Fein has requested one. The reason is that both parties lack confidence in Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald, who was involved in a controversy surrounding a so-called whistleblower within the police force during her time as Minister of Justice. The government is dependent on parliamentary support from Fianna Fáil. The ruling party Fine Gael expresses full confidence in Fitzgerald, who is accused by the opposition of having prior information that the lawyers who held public hearings with whistleblower Maurice McCabe would try to discredit him with false allegations of sexual abuse of children, and that Fitzgerald did not act for to prevent this (see also February 2017).

“No trade agreement with the British without a border issue”

November 17

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar is trying to increase pressure on the British government in the Brexit negotiations, saying that no trade deals should be made before the parties could agree on how to avoid a “hard” border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. A similar message was made earlier by Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney when he met his British colleague Boris Johnson.

Gerry Adams retires as Sinn Féin leader 2018

November 18

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams announces that he plans to step down as party leader next year. He also announces that he does not intend to run for re-election to the Irish Parliament. Adams has played an important role in the Northern Ireland peace process. It is widely believed that he has played a leading role in the Irish Republican Army (IRA), something he himself denies.


Ireland will vote for abortion 2018

September 26th

The Irish government says it will allow the Irish to vote on the country’s abortion laws 2018, probably in May or June. It is about whether Ireland should abolish the ban on abortion, which has been enshrined in the constitution since 1983 (the so-called Eighth Supplement).


Surplus in the state budget

July 4th

The Irish state bow is at a plus for the first six months of the year. This is happening, according to Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, even though tax revenues have fallen somewhat since spending is also lower than planned.


Varadkar becomes new prime minister

June 14

Parliament appoints Leo Varadkar from Fine Gael as new Prime Minister after Enda Kenny. He wins the vote by 57 votes, 50 members vote against and 47 abstentions. The 38-year-old Varadkar thus becomes Ireland’s youngest head of government of all time. Varadkar is re-furnishing in the government. He appoints Simon Coveney, his opponent in the party leadership, as Foreign Minister. He takes over after Charlie Flanagan who is given responsibility for the Justice Department. New Finance Minister becomes Paschal Donohoe. The new Prime Minister receives criticism for the fact that so few women are included in higher positions.

Leo Varadkar elected new leader of Fine Gael

June 3

Leo Varadkar, who previously held several ministerial posts, is elected new leader of Fine Gael. He defeats counter candidate Simon Coveney by securing the support of a majority of Fine Gael’s MPs. However, most of the party’s grass roots vote for Coveney. ahead of the party leadership election, Varadkar says he wants to represent “those who get up early in the mornings”. The 38-year-old Varadkar will take over the post of Prime Minister (Taoiseach) after Enda Kenny. The new party leader is openly gay and his father immigrated to Ireland from India. Varadkar, who wins by a clear margin, belongs to the party’s right wing. He is described as an unusually outspoken person for being an Irish politician.


Only Kenny resigns as party leader

May 18

Only Kenny resigns as leader of Fine Gael. He had already announced his departure in March. He remains as acting prime minister until his replacement is appointed in June.


Citizens’ panel wants to liberalize abortion legislation

April 23

The Citizens’ Panel of 99 randomly elected citizens who were appointed by Parliament in the fall of 2016 voted with a clear majority to allow Ireland to introduce free abortion until the twelfth week of pregnancy (64 percent voted for, 36 percent against). An even greater proportion of panelists want to allow abortion if the woman becomes pregnant after a rape, if the fetus is severely malformed or if the pregnancy poses a serious risk to the woman’s physical or mental health. A majority of the panel wants the addition to the constitution that gives the unborn child the same right to life as the pregnant woman. If the government follows the panel’s recommendations, a referendum will be held.


Police scandal is being investigated

February 16th

The government decides that the police scandal that looks to bring Prime Minister Kenny down should be investigated by an independent commission. The scandal is about the police being charged with a dirty-throwing campaign against a policeman who revealed corruption within the police force, where rumors must have spread that he was suspected of sexual abuse.

The government survives distrust

February 15

Sinn Fein makes a statement of disbelief against the government, which it accuses of trying to conceal the riots in a police scandal. The government survives the vote with 57 votes in favor and 52 against. 44 members cast their votes. At the same time, pressure is mounting that Prime Minister Enda Kenny, who is believed to have failed the deal, must hand over the baton to a new force. Possible successors are mentioned Housing Minister Simon Coveney and Social Minister Leo Varadkar.

Ireland Energy and Environment Facts

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