Greenhouse gas emissions down in a warm 2014

01/09/2015 15:00

In 2014, greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands were nearly 5 percent lower than in 2013. Households used less natural gas for heating due to the warmer weather, while another factor was lower consumption of car fuels. The effect of reduced emissions was however mitigated because electricity companies used more coal and less natural gas.
Compared to 1990,  emissions were down by 15 percent, as reported by Statistics Netherlands.

Greenhouse gas emissions

Lowest CO2 emissions in 25 years

In 2014, emission of greenhouse gases amounted to 187 billion CO2 equivalents, nearly 5 percent less than the previous year. Carbon dioxide emissions were at the lowest level of the past 25 years with a total of 158 billion kg, over 8 billion kg less than in 2013.

CO2 emissions by sector

2014 was exceptionally warm

One of the major reasons for lower CO2 emissions was the warmer weather. In 2014 all the months saw relatively mild weather, with the exception of August. It was the warmest year since 1706. Relatively little natural gas was burnt for heating of houses and offices. The number of days when heating was necessary, denominated in so-called heating degree days, degree days, was historically low. Due to the warmer weather, space heating required nearly  6 billion kg less in CO2 emissions than in 2013.

Final energy consumption natural gas (left) vs. number of degree days (right)

More coal, less natural gas, for electricity production

In 2014, energy companies saw an increase in CO2 emissions of over 2 billion kg, mainly due to the fact that more coal and less gas was used in the production of electricity. Coal is relatively cheap, but leads to higher CO2; emissions and pollution than natural gas. Since 2010, the share of natural gas in electricity production went down from 62 percent (2010) to 48 percent (2014), while the share of coal increased from 19 percent to 29 percent.

Electricity production by energy carrier

Lower sales of motor fuels

The increase in CO2 emissions at energy companies was compensated by the 2 billion kg  reduction in emissions in road traffic. Sales of petrol and diesel in the Netherlands dropped. Car engines are more fuel efficient and increasingly use alternative fuels such as electricity and natural gas. In 2014 part of the diesel fuel was sold across the border when excise duty on  diesel was raised. Based on IPCC guidelines, CO2 emissions are attributed to the country where motorists buy the fuel, regardless of where mileage is clocked up.

Stricter climate policy necessary

On 24 June 2015, the Dutch court ordered the government to implement a stricter climate policy as a result of a legal case brought by citizen organisation Urgenda together with nine hundred co-claimants. The court ruled that the government must do more to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gases of at least 25 percent compared to 1990 by the year 2020.  In 2014 this reduction was 15 percent, partly due to the warmer weather.