CO2 emissions grow much faster than Dutch economy

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Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports that CO2 emissions grow faster than the country’s economy. In the third quarter of 2015, CO2 emissions were 6.8 percent up from one year previously. The economy grew by 1.9 percent over the same period. Two factors which contribute to the growth of CO2 emissions are higher electricity production and more traffic movements.

For the third consecutive quarter, CO2 emissions grew more rapidly than the economy. The amount of CO2 emissions does not solely depend on an increase in economic activities. The emission level also strongly depends on weather conditions, technological developments and the implementation of policy measures.

The third quarter of 2015 was less warm than the same quarter last year. September was much cooler compared to September 2014. Adjusted for weather conditions, CO2 emissions grew by 6.4 instead of 6.8 percent.

Changes in CO2 emissions and economic developments, 3rd quarter 2015

Higher energy production; ‘fuel mix’ more harmful to the environment

In the third quarter, energy, water and waste management companies released 17 more CO2 into the earth’s atmosphere than last year. Together, these companies account for approximately 35 percent of total CO2 emissions. CO2 emissions mainly rose because energy companies generated more electricity. The export of electricity has grown substantially.

Compared to 2014, more coal and less natural gas was burnt to generate electricity. When coal is burnt, more CO2 is released into the atmosphere than when natural gas is burnt. Hence, the so-called ‘fuel mix’ used in Dutch power stations has become more harmful to the environment.

More road traffic movements

The energy sector is not the only sector to blame. In the third quarter, CO2 emissions also increased in the transport sector (by more than 4 percent), partly due to more traffic movements as a result of growing trade flows. The transport sector accounts for 18 percent of total CO2 emissions.

Within the transport sector, aviation accounted for the highest increase in CO2 emissions. Households also released more CO2 into the atmosphere because they used more motor fuels.

Emission level other sectors stable

In the sectors agriculture, mineral extraction, manufacturing industry and construction, the CO2-emission level was about the same as in the third quarter of 2014. Production processes in the chemical sector tend to be emission-intensive, but the CO2 emission level was reduced because output declined. The petroleum industry has stepped up production relative to one year previously. As a result, refineries showed a significant rise in CO2 emissions.

Background information:

CO2 emissions are calculated on the basis of definitions used by Environment accounts. This is a first estimate.