SDG 13 Climate action

SDG 13 aims to tackle climate change caused by humans. Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries committed to restricting global warming to below two degrees in 2050. To achieve this, greenhouse gas emissions must be substantially reduced. For the Netherlands, the reduction target for greenhouse gases is 55 percent from the 1990 level by 2030. The main way to accomplish this is by using less fossil and more renewable energy.

Summary of results
Dashboard and indicators
SDG 13 Climate action
Further reading

Summary of results

  • Five of the eight indicators show green medium-terms trends, indicating progress towards a higher level of well-being in 2015-2022.
  • Where international comparison is possible, the Netherlands is mainly in the middle or lowest groups of the EU.
  • Government spending on climate change mitigation as a percentage of GDP is rising steadily.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions per capita according to the IPCC definition are trending downwards. The reduction of CO2 emissions by ETS sectors is also trending favourably. The Netherlands is trailing in the EU on both indicators, however.
  • The greenhouse gas intensity of the Dutch economy is improving, the trend is green.
  • Three-quarters of the Dutch population are concerned about climate change.

Dashboard and indicators

How is the world going to halt global warming? SDG 13 addresses this crucial issue by setting targets for resilience and climate adaptation, national climate policies, and resources to create awareness and support for climate change mitigation measures. Dutch policy is centred around the Climate Agreement and the resulting Climate Act. In addition, a Delta Programme has been set up, intended to protect the Netherlands against flooding and other consequences of extreme weather. The Dutch government’s climate policy is closely linked to its commitment to use less energy overall and more renewable energy (SDG 7 Affordable and clean energy), to achieve a circular economy (SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production) and circular agriculture (SDG 2 Zero hunger), to promote innovation in industry, infrastructure and mobility (SDG 9.1 Infrastructure and mobility and SDG 9.2 Sustainable business), sustainable urban development (SDG 11.1 Housing and SDG 11.2 Living environment) and sustainable water use (SDG 6 Clean water and sanitation).

This dashboard focuses on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to emissions in the Netherlands, Dutch households and businesses indirectly cause greenhouse gas emissions in other countries as well, for example during the production of goods and services abroad which are imported for consumption in the Netherlands. Although trends for 2015-2022 present a predominantly positive picture, the Netherlands is trailing in the EU on several indicators. Only cumulative CO2 emissions are trending unfavourably from the perspective of well-being. This indicator will continue to develop adversely as long as present per capita emissions (according to the IPCC definition) exceed the average since 1860. Cumulative CO2 emissions reflect the average amount of CO2 each inhabitant has added per year to the atmosphere, since the start of the industrial revolution. It includes emissions caused by human activity (thus excluding emissions from natural sources). The average is rising steadily because recent emissions are higher than those in the first years after 1860.

SDG 13 Climate action  

Resources and opportunities

The long-term trend indicates a rise in broad well-being


The long-term trend indicates a rise in broad well-being
The long-term trend indicates a rise in broad well-being
The long-term trend indicates a rise in broad well-being


The long-term trend indicates a decline in broad well-being
The long-term trend indicates a rise in broad well-being

Subjective assessment


Resources and opportunities concern resources used in the Netherlands to combat climate change and cope with its effects. Dutch government spent 0.4 percent of GDP on measures to reduce the Dutch impact on the climate (climate change mitigation) in 2022. The medium-term trend (2015-2022) is rising, which is favourable in terms of well-being.

Use describes how the Netherlands is tackling climate change. The globally agreed target – global warming to be limited to well below 2oC and preferably 1.5oC – was set out in the Paris Agreement (2015) and was officially adopted in the Netherlands in its Climate Agreement of June 2019. Dutch national climate targets for 2030 and 2050 are laid down in the Climate Act, which requires greenhouse gas emissions to be at least 49 percent lower than their 1990 level in 2030. Until recently, this was a more ambitious target than the 40 percent reduction required by the EU, but in 2020 the EU decided to increase the 2030 reduction target for Europe to 55 percent, and the Netherlands followed suit. Dutch policy is now even more ambitious, aiming for a reduction of around 60 percent. The coalition agreement presented in December 2021 also states that the Netherlands must be climate neutral by 2050.

The target agreed in a European context for 2030 (55 percent reduction from 1990) is based on a different definition of total greenhouse gas emissions; it includes emissions from land use. Data used for this monitor are based on the ‘old’ IPCC total, which excludes emissions from land use. Land use emissions will be included in the data from next year’s edition of the monitor. For this year, including emissions from land use would not have changed the overall picture presented here, as these emissions have fallen by about the same percentage, compared with 1990, as the total used here. Moreover, land use accounts for only a very small part of total emissions (2 to 3 percent).

Methods to convert various greenhouse gas emissions to CO2 equivalents have also been revised. See Hoe groot is onze broeikasgasuitstoot?. Although this is mandatory from 2023, not all countries have adjusted their figures to the new method, and international comparison is therefore temporarily more difficult.

Greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands were 31.6 percent lower in 2022 than in 1990, according to preliminary calculations by CBS and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)/National Emissions Register. This is nearly 7 percentage points over the Urgenda reduction target – at least 25 percent from 1990. While the reduction exceeded the Urgenda target in 2022, it did not meet this target in 2021, when emissions were a few tenths of a percentage point off. In 2020, emission reductions were 1 percentage point above target. The trend in greenhouse gas emissions per capita is decreasing. According to the first provisional calculations by CBS and the national emissions register, 8.6 tonnes of CO2 equivalents in greenhouse gases were emitted per capita in 2022. The downward trend is positive from the viewpoint of well-being, but compared with other EU countries, emissions in the Netherlands remain high (22nd position out of 27 countries in 2020).

Within the EU, companies with the highest levels of greenhouse gas emissions are required to participate in the Emissions Trading System (ETS). This system is intended to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the EU in accordance with Kyoto Protocol targets. Emission allowance holders are permitted to release a specified amount of greenhouse gases. The ETS sets no national targets, only an overall target for emissions across the EU: by 2030 these emissions must be 61 percent lower than in 2005. In 2021 the ETS reduction for the EU27 as a whole was just under 37 percent. With a reduction of 19 percent, the Netherlands was at the bottom of the European rankings in 2021, alongside Poland and Cyprus,

Outcomes concern all Dutch contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions. The cumulative CO2 emissions indicator is calculated by taking the sum of annual CO2 emissions from 1860 onwards and dividing it by the sum of the annual population in the same period. The amount of accumulated CO2 emissions is rising steadily, because more is now being emitted per capita than in the past. Cumulative CO2 emissions give an indication of the Dutch share of global historical CO2 emissions. And it is relatively high: the Netherlands ranks 13th out of 16 EU countries for which figures were available in 2020. The trend in greenhouse gas intensity of the economy – volume of emissions per euro of GDP – is decreasing, however, which is positive for well-being. Viewed across a longer term, economic growth has been decoupled from the air emissions burden on the environment: the volume of GDP grew by 91 percent in the period 1990-2022, while air emissions decreased.

The greenhouse gas footprint reflects the total volume of greenhouse gases emitted to satisfy Dutch consumption. It includes emissions of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide caused by economic activities in the Netherlands, plus emissions of these substances abroad during the production of goods and services imported by the Netherlands. Emissions in the Netherlands caused by the production of goods and services that are exported are deducted from this. The greenhouse gas footprint amounted to 15.9 tonnes of CO2 equivalents per capita in 2021.

Subjective assessment refers to climate change concerns and the extent to which people see global warming as a problem. According to a CBS study conducted in 2020, over three-quarters of the population aged 18 years and older were concerned or very concerned about the impact of climate change on future generations. The 2021 Eurobarometer survey included the question on what the greatest problem is facing the world today. Selecting from 11 topics, one third of Dutch respondents answered climate change. This was a larger share of respondents than in all other countries with the exception of Sweden and Denmark. If a large share of Dutch citizens are worried – more than in other countries – this is viewed as unfavourable for the well-being of these individuals, and it results in a low ranking in the EU. On the other hand, the more people are worried, the more aware they are of the problem and the more willing they will be to change their behaviour.

Further reading

Green Deal: CBS werkt met externe partners aan verduurzaming
Klimaat- en Energieverkenning 2022
Dossier Broeikasgassen