Environmental Impacts (positive and negative) Flowing from COVID-19 and Related Measures

In 2020 The Clean Technology Centre undertook a research project on Environmental impacts (positive and negative) flowing from COVID-19 and related measures for the for the EPA State of the Environment Report 2020.

While the study focused primarily on the environmental effects, CTC have also included related effects such as changes in consumption, which have knock-on environmental impacts.

The study period was for all of March and April 2020, which includes both the initial restrictions imposed on March 12th (closures of schools, workplaces, etc.), and the eventual lock-down on March 27th 2020. Where data are available, May 2020 has been included as well.

While CTC endeavoured to be as accurate as possible, the report should be regarded as a ‘first look’ at the effects of the pandemic. In some cases, the information gathered was qualitative, rather than quantitative – where hard data are not yet available. In time, each of the different environmental areas will be duly systematically quantified as part of the normal environmental assessment processes.

The following are the key thematic areas covered:

  • Climate and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Air quality
  • Water
  • Waste
  • Resource use
  • Nature & wild places
  • Environment, health & wellbeing and community engagement
  • Noise
  • Policy
  • Media coverage of environmental aspects of COVID-19 measures

Compilation and analysis of data and information are detailed under each of these sections, as appropriate in the final report.

Some stand-out pieces of data include the following:

Greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and noise

  • Petrol consumption, down 50%
  • Diesel consumption, down 35%
  • Electricity usage, down 6%
  • Electricity GHG emissions, down 7%
  • Natural Gas GHG emissions, down 6%
  • Overall Ireland GHG emissions, down 2.5%
  • Domestic Heating Oil Purchases, doubled
  • Traffic volumes, down 68%; Noise down
  • Traffic air pollution: NO2 down 39% Dublin, down 30% Cork; PM5 down 30% Dublin, down 9% Cork
  • Environmental noise and odour complaints: up
  • International arrivals and departures: April, down 99%, May down 98%

Waste and Resource Use

  • Domestic brown bins, up 32%
  • Glass bottle intake, up 46%
  • Household waste, up 26% overall
  • Domestic skip use, up
  • Commercial waste, down 54%
  • Construction waste, down 65%
  • Illegal dumping: anecdotally up, related complaints up
  • Healthcare risk waste from HSE hospitals, up 24%
  • Domestic water use, up 20%
  • Non-domestic water use, down
  • Food retail sales, up 16-17%
  • Overall retail sales, down 32%
  • Imports, down 21%
  • Online retail sales, break records, 15.5% of total retail

Nature and People

  • Time outside: More people spending time outside, 93% of people walking
  • Engagement with local wildlife: up 70%
  • Pollinators: Reduces management of green spaces allowing wild flowers to bloom, great for pollinators.

The Report is available here.

Key details

Project Name

Environmental Impacts (positive and negative) Flowing from COVID-19 and Related Measures


Environmental Protection Agency





Main features

Research Study on the Environmental Impacts (positive and negative) Flowing from COVID-19 and Related Measures

Contact Details

Senior Environmental Consultant
Eileen O’Leary
Senior Environmental Consultant
Eileen O’Leary is a chemical engineer, who has worked for CTC for over 25 years. Eileen has a wide range of experience working with industry, local authorities, and national agencies. She has carried out and managed projects in a number of fields, including food waste, textiles, energy efficiency, solvent waste management, work in relation to the solvents Directive, national emissions inventories, and best practice guides for a range of different sectors.
Senior Environmental Consultant
Colman Mc Carthy
Senior Environmental Consultant
Colman is a Senior Environmental Consultant with a BSc & MSc in industrial chemistry and postgraduate diplomas in environmental and industrial engineering. He is a Certified Energy Auditor (AEE) and Greenhouse Gas Verifier. Colman has thirty years’ experience in implementing certified ISO management systems, project management, research and conducting resource efficiency audits in the manufacturing and service sectors.
Electrical and Sustainable Energy engineer
Safaa Al Tameemi
Electrical and Sustainable Energy engineer
Safaa is an Electrical and Sustainable Energy Engineer and Certified Energy Auditor; a member of the Association of Energy Auditors (AEE); a Certified ISO14064-3 Greenhouse Gas Quantifier and Verifier; and a data analyst. Safaa’s areas of expertise include energy efficiency, energy auditing, zero emissions, renewable energy sources, energy management system, resource efficiency assessments, carbon footprint and offset, waste and water. She has a solid foundation in data management, scaling-up data and writing technical reports.