Top Irish companies reduce their emissions footprint by a third

CDP Ireland Network says more companies here are participating in climate change reporting

Ireland’s top companies reduced their emissions footprint by a third last year while more businesses participated in climate change reporting, according to the Irish branch of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

However, CDP Ireland Network cautioned that some of the improvement may have been driven by "Covid-related reduced activity".

The top-performing Irish corporates named in its annual report for 2021 included AIB, CRH, Kerry, ESB, Glenveagh and Kingspan.

It said average operational carbon emissions from Irish companies reporting on their environmental performance fell by more than a third last year.


Average scope 1 (direct CO2 emissions produced by the company’s activities) and scope 2 emissions (emissions produced indirectly, typically by purchasing energy) per company totalled 32,577 tonnes last year, compared with 50,483 in 2020, a decline of 36 per cent, it said.

“The trend over the past four years shows that in general companies are making good progress from merely setting climate change targets, to implementing on initiatives to reduce their environmental impact, although the decline in average emissions for 2021 was helped by some Covid-related reduced activity and the smaller size of some of the new responder companies,” it said.

Decarbonisation of the Irish electricity grid and improved fuel efficiency have played a significant role in this reduction, it added.

The group’s report showed 55 Irish-headquartered companies reporting under CDP’s rigorous evaluation procedure, an increase of 17 per cent on the previous year.

Some 79 per cent of participating Irish companies achieved a B- grade or higher compared with 69 per cent across Europe and 66 per cent globally.

CDP is a global non-profit that operates an environmental disclosure system which evaluates more than 13,000 companies each year.


“The increasing number of companies participating is a sign they recognise the need to provide verifiable third-party data on their sustainability progress to investors and customers,” it said.

New respondents here include Paddy Power Betfair owner Flutter Entertainment, Grafton Group and Aer Cap Holdings.

While the report’s headline findings point to an improved focus and attention on addressing climate change from Irish companies, the CDP cautioned, however, that the climate issue here “is far from under control”.

It highlighted the need for companies to accelerate their decarbonisation efforts, in particular in their scope 3 value chain emissions, “if we are to avoid the catastrophic impacts of irreversible global warming”.

Eoin Fahy, chairman of the CDP Ireland Network, said: "It is great to see the CDP Ireland Network going from strength to strength, with a 17 per cent increase in Irish companies reporting in 2021."

“This is a minimum first step companies should take to demonstrate to their investors, their customers, and their staff that they are taking their responsibilities seriously,” he said.

Brian O’Kennedy executive director of CDP Ireland Network said: “As investor and customer scrutiny of sustainability measures increases it is clear that environmental reporting is now a key feature of many Irish companies’ annual reporting cycle.”

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times