Greenhouse gas emissions slightly up in 2016

In 2016, greenhouse gas emissions were 1 percent up on the level of one year previously. Emissions rose in the chemical industry while more natural gas was used to heat homes and offices. At the same time, net emission levels at power stations were down. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this today based on new, preliminary figures obtained from The Netherlands Pollutant Release and Transfer Register.
Greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 amounted to 197 billion CO2 equivalents, which is 1 percent higher than in 2015 and 11 percent lower than in 1990. As a result of the court ruling in the Urgenda Climate Case, the Dutch government must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 25 percent compared to 1990 before 2020.

Higher CO2 emissions by chemical industry

Emissions of the gas carbon dioxide (CO2) alone amounted to 167 bn kg in 2016, nearly 2 bn kg more than in 2015. Increased economic activity in the chemical industry accounted for an increase of 1.5 bn kg CO2; at the same time, CO2 emissions rose by 0.8 bn kg due to increased natural gas consumption for homes and offices, while energy companies reduced CO2 emissions by 0.4 bn kg on balance relative to 2015.

More natural gas, less coal used in record-high electricity production

The share of coal in total electricity production was down to 32 percent in 2016 following an increase from 18 to 36 percent over previous years (2011-2015). The share held by natural gas rose to 46 percent, after having dropped from 60 percent in 2011 to 42 percent in 2015. This trend reversal is explained by the closure of three old coal-fired power stations and increased gas-fired power generation in 2016.

Substitution of coal with natural gas led to lower CO2 emissions; however, this reduction was largely offset by the extra natural gas consumption in electricity production that was needed to compensate for decreased electricity imports. This resulted in new record levels of electricity output in 2016.

Lower emissions intensity of the Dutch economy

In 2016, the chemical, petroleum and basic metals industries combined produced 78 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the manufacturing sector. These three industries generate merely 17 percent of the value added in total manufacturing. Together, the three industries account for the highest emissions intensity within the sector, almost five times higher than that of the entire manufacturing sector and over seven times higher than the intensity of the Dutch economy as a whole.
The food, beverages and tobacco industry accounted for 10 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions generated by the manufacturing sector in 2016. However, the share of this industry in total manufacturing value added is 21 percent. The emissions intensity of the food, beverages and tobacco industry is about half that of the entire manufacturing sector.
The emissions intensity of the overall economy in 2016 was around 42 percent lower than in 1990. This decrease was due to the growing share of the services sector and falling emissions intensity of the manufacturing sector. Another contributing factor in the lower emissions intensity of the Dutch economy are energy savings, both within and outside of the manufacturing sector.