Lower greenhouse gas emissions despite cold winter

Last year, greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands were nearly 1 percent below the level of 2011. The cold weather conditions in winter prompted consumers to use more natural gas for home heating. The higher natural gas consumption was amply offset by the lower electricity production and the reduced consumption of motor fuels. 

Carbon dioxide emissions marginally lower

In 2012, greenhouse gas emissions amounted to 193 billion CO2 equivalents, 1 percent down from one year previously. Carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas, accounts for the decline. The contribution of CO2 to total greenhouse gas emissions has grown from 76 to 86 percent over the past three decades.

Greenhouse gas emissions

Greenhouse gas emissions

Less electricity generated

Due to the cold weather conditions in the winter of 2012, more natural gas was used to heat homes and offices and CO2 emissions increased by 2 billion kg, which were offset by a lower electricity production in 2012 (2 billion kg CO2) as a result increased imports of cheap electricity, notably from Germany. Total CO2 emissions were reduced relative to the previous year because motor fuel consumption by road traffic was reduced by 1 billion kg CO2.

Chemical industry pick up

The chemical industry picked up in 2012 due to a growing demand from countries outside Europe. Greenhouse gas emissions increased, but the increase was neutralised completely by lower emissions in other industrial sectors. The effects of the economic crisis become manifest: the economic contraction reduces the demand for energy.

Carbon dioxide emissions per sector

Carbon dioxide emissions per sector

Is the Kyoto target feasible?

According to the Kyoto Protocol, the Netherlands has committed itself to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by an average of 6 percent over the period 2008–2012 relative to the Kyoto base year. The overall emission in the base year was 213.2 billion CO2 equivalents. If the provisional figures for 2012 are taken into account, the emission over the period 2008-2012 averages 199.5 billion CO2 equivalents, i.e. a reduction by 6.4 percent relative to the base year. On the basis of these figures, it is as yet impossible to conclude that the Kyoto target has been met.

Arthur Denneman (CBS) and Kees Peek (RIVM)