Ireland is "falling short" in its efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned.
The agency's provisional figures for 2018 show Ireland exceeded its annual EU emissions budget by over 5 million tonnes.
It contrasts with an excess of 3 million tonnes in 2017.
There was a overall a marginal decrease of 0.2% in greenhouse gas emissions, largely due to a reduction in the energy sector.
However, that was countered by a growth in emissions from homes, transport and agriculture.
According to the EPA, this means Ireland is struggling in its efforts to reduce emissions and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
It also warns about the impact on our role in the international efforts to combat climate change.
Dr Eimear Cotter, director of the Office of Environmental Sustainability, explained: “Ireland has exceeded its annual EU emissions budget for the third year in a row, and by a margin of over 5 million tonnes.
"At a time of global urgency to address climate change this is a national trend that we must reverse."
Dr Cotter added: "It is time for businesses and communities to support and be supported in taking action to reduce emissions.
"Ireland must implement the ambitious commitments in the 2019 Climate Action Plan to play its role in averting the worst impacts of climate change”.
Reacting to the figures, Environment Minister Richard Bruton acknowledged that Ireland has "drifted off target".
He said: "We must implement a decisive policy shift each year, every year.
“While the EPA’s statement today shows that emissions have fallen for a second year in a row, the decrease is too small and driven by temporary occurrences - primarily the temporary closure of Moneypoint."
He suggested the Government's climate action plan was the "pathway forward", adding: "We have a brief opportunity to act and we must act now."