Netherlands greenhouse gas emissions increased in 2016

greenhouse gas emissions Frank J. (Frank John) Aleksandrowicz Wikimedia commons

The Netherlands saw an increase in greenhouse gas emissions last year. The total greenhouse gas emissions amounted to 197 billion kilograms of CO2 equivalents, 1 percent more than in 2015, Statistics Netherlands reported on Monday based on preliminary figures.

CO2 equivalents are used to add up the effects of different greenhouse gasses, such as methane and nitrous oxide, on the environment. 1 kilogram of CO2 equivalent is equal to the effect of 1 kilogram of CO2. 

Compared to 1990, the greenhouse gas in the emissions in the Netherlands decreased by 11 percent. This means the Netherlands still has some way to go to reach the 25 percent decrease the court ordered in the so-called Urgenda ruling in 2015. Another environmental group, Milieudefensie, also filed a lawsuit against the Dutch state demanding that more be done to improve air quality in the Netherlands. 

The emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) increased by almost 2 billion kilograms to 167 billion kilograms last year. The chemical industry released 1.5 billion kilograms of CO2 more than in 2015. More natural gas was also used for heating homes and offices, resulting in 0,8 billion kilograms more CO2 being emitted. 

Last year energy companies used less coal for electricity generation. The proportion of coal in the Netherlands power generation dropped to 32 percent. In the period between 2011 and 2015, coal's share increased from 18 percent to 36 percent. The share of natural gas increased to 46 percent. Between 2011 and 2015 the proportion of natural gas decreased from 60 percent to 43 percent. 

According to the stats office, the use of coal decreased due to the closure of three old coal plants last year, while the natural gas plants were used more. 

Using less coal in favor of natural gas results in lower CO2 emissions. This decrease was largely canceled out however, because more natural gas was used for the production of electricity, according to Statistics Netherlands. "It was necessary to compensate for the decline in electricity imports, which led to a record production of electricity in 2016."