Greenhouse gas emissions from Irish companies in the EU Emission Trading Scheme rose by almost 6% last year, to the highest level in four years.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency emissions from the cement and aviation industries grew by 11%.

Emissions from the power generation sector were also markedly up, around 5.3%, driven by an increase in use of the coal-fired plant at Moneypoint for electricity generation.

The food and drink sector saw a 4.6% rise in its emissions.

The increases came against the backdrop of a fall of 0.4% across the EU as a whole.

The EPA says a stronger incentive is needed here to move away from fossil fuel use.

"The increase in emissions is disappointing and points to the fact that economic growth needs to be decoupled from emissions growth," said EPA Director General Laura Burke.

"The increased use of coal for electricity generation in Ireland contrasts sharply with the pledge in the December 2015 White Paper on Energy to reduce energy-related carbon emissions by between 80 and 95%, compared with 1990 levels.

"We need a stronger incentive to move away from carbon intensive fuels like coal in the short term and from fossil fuel use in general in the long term.

"Reforming the EU ETS to give a stronger carbon price would speed up the decarbonisation needed for a carbon neutral economy."

Around 100 companies and institutions here are part of the trading scheme.