Dutch economy more sustainable

15/11/2007 15:00

According to Statistics Netherlands’ environmental accounts, published today, the Dutch economy is becoming more and more environmentally sustainable. Between 1990 and 2006 environmental pollution caused by Dutch industry and households decreased, while the economy grew in the same period. The rate at which companies are saving energy has slowed down in recent years, however.

Cleaner production processes lead to less pollution

Environmental pollution caused by Dutch industry and households has decreased in the last 16 years. In the same period, the economy has grown by more than 48 percent. These divergent developments indicate that the economy is becoming more sustainable. Cleaner industrial production processes are a main factor in this. Pollution by households was also down, while they consumed more.

The emission of greenhouse gases was not lower in 2006 than in 1990. Although the emission has decreased in the last two years, this is largely the result of higher electricity imports. The decrease of emissions of heavy metals into water has come to a standstill.

Slower rate of energy saving in industry

Companies have hardly been able to increase energy efficiency since 2000. In the nineties energy reductions were still substantial.

Households have managed to reduce their energy consumption since 2000. The consumption of natural gas has fallen as a result of energy saving measures such as better home insulation and the introduction of high efficiency boilers, although the milder winters have also contributed to this. The use of electricity and motor fuels is still increasing annually, however.

Trade surplus accompanied by extra pollution

Exports are one of the main driving forces behind Dutch economic growth. The environmental pollution caused by exports is higher than that connected with imports. If the Netherlands only produced enough for its own consumption, the Dutch economy would be less polluting than it is now.

Households spend 2,600 euro on energy

Dutch households spent an average 1,160 euro on motor fuels, 620 euro on electricity and 810 euro on natural gas in 2006. Energy prices for households rose by nearly 40 percent between 2001 and 2006. Inflation in this period was only 10 percent.

Higher fuel and electricity taxes account for nearly half of the strong increase in energy prices. Compared with other countries in Europe, the Netherlands has a greener tax system, with the aim of discouraging activities that pollute or otherwise damage the environment.