Netherlands failed to achieve court-ordered environmental targets last year
The Netherlands failed to emit 25 percent less greenhouse gasses last year than in 1990. In 2019, the highest court ruled in a case brought by environmental group Urgenda that emissions must be a quarter lower than in 1990 every year from 2020. But in 2021, emissions were only 23.9 percent lower, according to Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and the RIVM's Emission Register. Environmental organization Urgenda called the failure a slap in the face of the younger generations.
The increase in greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 was mainly caused by the relatively cold start of the year. Homes, schools, offices, and healthcare institutions used more natural gas than in 2020 to stay warm, according to CBS. Greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture were also higher due to the relatively cold and less sunny first half of 2021. Their emissions were 2 percent higher than in 2020.
The electricity sector also emitted 2 percent more greenhouse gases, while electricity production was actually lower. Natural gas became more expensive from the second quarter of 2021, which means the sector used more coal to generate electricity. The price of coal rose less rapidly. Coal-firing releases more CO2 than gas. In the mobility sector and industry, emissions remained about the same as in 2020.
The climate target was achieved in 2020 through a reduction in coal use and luck - it was a relatively warm year, so less heating had to be generated. Coronavirus measures also played a "limited" role. The industry emitted about the same amount of greenhouse gasses as a year earlier, but road traffic emissions fell by 15 percent.
Urgenda called the failure to emit at least 25 percent less greenhouse gases than in 1990 a slap in the face of the younger generations. "By the time they're at the helm, they'll barely be able to prevent disruptive climate change." The organization wants to talk to all relevant Ministers "about quickly achieving the required goals and reducing emissions even more to make up for last year's deficit."
In the Urgenda case, the court obliged the government to take more measures against climate change. By 2020, emissions of CO2 and other gases that contribute to global warming had to be reduced by at least 25 percent. The State continued to appeal up to the highest court, and the Supreme Court confirmed the lower courts' ruling at the end of 2019. Urgenda won the lawsuit against the State for the first time in 2015.
"The fact that after seven years the government still can't comply with a court ruling is undermining the rule of law," Urgenda said on Wednesday. "And at this time, we want to get rid of fossil fuels as soon as possible, first from Russia."
According to the organization, every ton of emissions contributes to further global warming. The faster emissions decrease, the greater the chance that warming can be limited to 1.5 degrees. Climate change can already take on dangerous forms with a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees, Urgenda said.
Reporting by ANP