Environmental damage costs Netherlands €31 billion annually

Air pollution (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Zakysant)Air pollution (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Zakysant)

Every year the Netherlands incurs 31 billion euros worth of damage to the environment through the emission of harmful substances, according a study by the Netherlands' environmental assessment agency PBL. That amounts to 4.5 percent of the country's gross domestic product, NU.nl reports.

"Despite the environmental policy of the past 50 years, various environmental problems still affect society", the PBL researchers said in the study published on Friday. Nearly 98 percent of all calculated environmental damage is caused by emissions into the air. This mainly concerns greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane, and air polluting substances like nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxide and ammonia. 

Traffic and transport account for the most environmental damage. According to the PBL, this sector is responsible for 12 billion euros worth of environmental damage per year. More than two thirds of the damage caused by this sector, is caused by nitrogen oxides. The agriculture sector comes in second place for most environmental damage, with 6.5 billion euros of damage per year. Half of the damage caused by this sector is caused by ammonia. About 40 percent comes from methane and nitrous oxide. 

Other large causes of environmental damage are the industry and refining sector with 4.5 billion euros and the energy sector, with 4 billion euros. Consumers cause around 1.75 billion euros worth of damage to the environment per year. The waste disposal and service sector only attribute to direct environmental damage in a limited extent, though it should be noted that environmental damage caused by residual waste from waste incineration plants is not included in these calculations.