Slight decrease in Dutch emissions; much more needed to achieve climate goals

Greenhouse gas emissions
Greenhouse gas emissions. (Photo: kodda/DepositPhotos)

Last year the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands was 2 percent lower than in 2017 and 15 percent lower than in 1990, Statistics Netherlands reported on Wednesday. The Netherlands still has a long way to go to achieve its climate goal of 49 percent less emissions in 2030 compared to 1990.

Last year, the greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands amounted to a total of 189.3 billion CO2 equivalents. Industry reduced its emissions by 30 billion CO2 equivalents compared to 1990. Only 16 percent of this reduction was due to lower CO2 emissions. Half of the other 84 percent was due to decreasing methane emissions from landfill sites, a quarter to the elimination of fluorinated gases and a quarter to less laughing gas emissions during nitric acid production. With a sector goal of a 51 billion CO2 equivalents reduction by 2030 compared to 1990, the industry still has 21 billion CO2 equivalents to go. 

The built environment - natural gas for heating - and agriculture both reduced their emissions by 6 billion CO2 equivalents, and both are approaching their 2030 target. The built environment has to reduce its CO2 equivalents by another 9.1 billion by 2030, agriculture has 4.7 billion to go.

But electricity companies and the mobility sector - domestic traffic and transport - saw their emissions increase by 6 billion and 3 billion CO2 equivalents respectively compared to 1990. According to the stats office, this has to do with both sectors expanding significantly since 1990. Electricity companies in particular still has a long way to go to reach its 2030 target. Last year electricity companies emitted 45.2 billion CO2 equivalents. That must be reduced to 12.4 billion CO2 equivalents in 2030, so 32.8 billion still to go. The mobility sector has to reduce its emissions by 10.6 billion CO2 equivalents by 2030.

Per square meter, Velsen has the highest greenhouse gas emissions - 42 times higher than the national average of 5 kilograms of CO2 per square meter. The high emissions can be attributed to steel manufacturer Tata Steel and a power plant that uses the residual gases from blast furnaces being located in Velsen. 

Other municipalities with high emissions per square meter are Geertruidenberg with its Amer power plant (26 times higher than average), Rotterdam with its refineries, chemical industry and power plants on and near the Maasvlakte (20 times higher), Diemen with its power plants (17 times higher), and Sittard-Geleen with chemical company Chemelot (16 times higher).