NL's greenhouse gas emissions quarter lower last year than 1990: RIVM
Greenhouse gas emissions last year were 25.4 percent lower than in 1990, according to the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) based on provisional figures. If the percentage is correct, the Netherlands managed to achieve the Urgenda target after all. The environmental organization convinced the court that the Netherlands had to emit a quarter less greenhouse gasses in 2020 than in 1990. The decrease in 2020 was mainly due to a number of coincidences.
Earlier this year, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and the RIVM made an initial estimate of emissions in 2020. According to those calculations, the reduction in emissions in 2020 hovered around 24.5 percent compared to 1990. The final figures for 2020 will not be presented until next year. According to the RIVM, the decrease in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 will "probably" be between 24 and 27 percent.
Compared to 2019, greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 9 percent last year. This is a sharper decrease than in previous years and, according to the RIVM, and mainly due to the fact that less coal-fired electricity was produced.
According to Margreet van Zanten, head of emission registration at the RIVM, an important cause was the closure of the Hemweg power station in Amsterdam at the end of 2019. "So it no longer emitted anything in 2020. The power station on the Maasvlakte in Rotterdam also suffered several failures last year, which left it shut down for much of 2020." In addition, coal prices were relatively high last year, which made generating electricity from coal unattractive. "These are therefore no direct consequences of political decisions, except for the closure of the Hemweg power station," said Van Zenten.
Another cause for the drop in emissions was the reduced traffic due to the coronavirus crisis. In addition, since March 2020, the speed limit was reduced to 100 kilometers per hour. According to the RIVM, it is not possible to make a precise distinction in the effect of these two factors.
Emissions of other air pollutants, such as particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, also decreased in 2020, as in previous years. Nitrogen dioxide is mainly released by combustion engines (in cars) and in industry.
Only ammonia emissions did not fall, viewed over a number of years. The agricultural sector is by far the largest emitter of this chemical compound. Ammonia is released during the evaporation of manure. Ammonia contains nitrogen. To much nitrogen precipitation is bad for the environment.
Reporting by ANP.