Rise in greenhouse gas emissions in 2015Greenhouse gas emissions totalled 196 billion kg of CO2 equivalents in 2015, i.e. a 5 percent increase from 2014 and a 12 percent decrease from 1990. In the Urgenda climate case of 24 June 2015, the court ruled that the Dutch government has a legal obligation to cut its emissions by at least 25 percent compared with 1990 levels.
CO2 emissions 2 percent above 1990 level
Last year 167 bn kg of carbon dioxide (CO2), nearly 9 bn kg more than in 2014 were emitted into the atmosphere, a rise by 2 percent relative to 1990. Only in 2014, when temperatures were exceptionally high, CO2 emissions were below the level recorded in 1990. In total, other (i.e. non-CO2) greenhouse gas emissions were cut by half in 2015 compared to 1990.
More coal, less natural gas for electricity generation
The amount of CO2 emitted by power stations rose by more than 4 bn kg (9 percent) in 2015 relative to the previous year and by 8 bn kg (18 percent) relative to 2013. Since that year, several new coal-fired power plants have been put into operation. Coal is a relatively cheap source of energy, but, compared to natural gas, coal produces more CO2 and pollutants. During the past half decade, the share of natural gas in electricity generation has been reduced by one-third, from 62 percent in 2010 to 42 percent in 2015. The share of coal has almost doubled over the same period, from 19 to 35 percent.
More natural gas for heating
In 2015, more natural gas was used to heat houses and offices than in 2014. Total CO2 emissions in built-up areas show a slightly downward trend with sudden ups and downs in warm and cold years. Natural gas consumption was marginally higher in the warm year 2015 than 2014, a year with exceptionally high temperatures; 2013 was colder, although not as cold as 1996 and 2010.
Emissions other greenhouse gases reduced by half
Over the past eight years, total emissions of other greenhouse gases, like methane and laughing gas, amounted to 30 bn kg of CO2 equivalents on an annual basis. In 1990 and the following eight years, this amount doubled. The reduction by 50 percent was realised in the period 1999-2008. Apart from lower methane and laughing gas emissions in the agricultural sector, methane emissions from waste dump sites have also been reduced gradually over the past 25 years. Laughing gas emissions have fallen by one-third since 2006, when measures were taken to reduce emissions produced by nitric acid plants. Emissions of fluorinated gases increased in the 1990s and subsequently decreased significantly from 1998 onwards.
Downward trend emission intensity between 1990 and 2015
Economic growth in the Netherlands over the past 25 years was 60 percent, while CO2 emissions rose only slightly, partly due to energy-saving measures and the growing share of the services sector. The emission intensity of the Dutch economy was reduced by 30 percent for CO2, by 70 percent for other greenhouse gases and by 40 percent for greenhouse gases in total.