Greenhouse gas emissions down

© Hollandse Hoogte
In 2018, greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands amounted to 189.3 billion CO2 equivalents. This level is 2 percent lower than in 2017 and 15 percent higher than in 1990. The Dutch economy grew by nearly 80 percent while the population increased by 15 percent in the meantime. In order to succesfully implement the commitments set in the national climate agreement (‘Klimaatakkoord’), there has to be 49 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2030, relative to 1990. The largest reduction commitment is imposed on the electricity companies and the manufacturing industry. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new emission figures which have been compiled by The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)/Emissions Register.

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In 2018, the manufacturing industry had reduced emissions by 30 billion CO2 equivalents relative to 1990. The sectors built environment (natural gas combustion for heating) and agriculture both achieved reductions of 6 billion CO2 equivalents. In the sectors electricity production and mobility (domestic traffic and transport), emissions rose instead, by 6 billion and 3 billion CO2 equivalents respectively. All five of these sectors increased in size.

Greenhouse gas emissions (bn CO2 equivalents)
 1990200420182030 target
Manufacturing87.068.957.235.7
Energy companies39.654.945.212.4
Traffic and transport32.339.635.625.0
Agriculture32.926.026.922.2
Built environment29.931.124.415.3
Source: CBS, RIVM/Emissions Register.

Greatest challenge for electricity companies and manufacturing

If the sector objectives are achieved, by 2030 total emissions will be down by 78.7 billion CO2 equiivalents relative to 2018. These reductions include 42 percent for the account of electricity production, 27 percent for manufacturing, 13 percent for traffic and transport, 12 percent for the built environment and 6 percent for agriculture. Replacement of fossil fuels will cut emissions in all sectors, but will also push up demand for electricity. This means an even greater challenge for electricity companies to meet the targets in the climate agreement.

By 2030, GHG emissions by the manufacturing industry must have been cut by 51 billion CO2 equivalents relative to 1990. A reduction was achieved in 2018 of 30 billion CO2 equivalents. Only 16 percent of this reduction was the result of lower CO2 emissions. Half of the remaining 84 percent was on account of reduced methane emissions at landfills, one-quarter was the result of a ban on fluorinated gases in the late 1990s, and one-quarter the result of lower nitrous oxide emissions in the nitric acid production sector. This has led to an increase in the share of industrial CO2 emissions from 63 percent in 1990 to 87 percent in 2018.

Highest GHG emissions in Velsen

Per square metre, Velsen has 42 times higher greenhouse gas emissions than the average level in the Netherlands (5 kg CO2 per m2). The city of Velsen is home to steel producer Tata Steel, and there is a power station which makes use of residual gases from the blast furnaces. Other municipalities with a high emission level per m2 include Geertruidenberg (the Amercentrale coal plant, 26 times higher emissions than average), Rotterdam with its oil refineries, the chemical industry and power stations on and close to the Maasvlakte (20 times higher), Diemen with its power stations (17 times higher) and Sittard-Geleen (chemical giant Chemelot, 16 times higher emissions). All these municipalities owe their high score to higher CO2 emission levels. In addition, Sittard-Geleen has higher nitrous oxide emissions due to the local production of caprolactam, the main raw material for nylon. At 85 percent, CO2 contributes the largest share to total greenhouse gas emissions, followed by methane (9 percent), nitrous oxide (5 percent) and F-gases (1 percent).

Highest methane emissions in livestock farming areas

The regional distribution of methane emissions is different from CO2. The emission sources are different as well. The four municipalities with the highest methane emission levels per m2 are Nuenen, Gerwen en Nederwetten, Landgraaf, Hengelo (Overijssel) and Zoetermeer. These are the municipalities with a permanent waste landfill site. Raised levels of methane have also been measured in the greenhouse cultivation areas of Westland and Lansingerland. The methane there is released during heating of the greenhouses by way of cogeneration, with a gas-driven engine simultaneously producing heat and power. However, the single largest emission source for methane is livestock farming: two-thirds of all methane emissions are from that source. In areas with high density cattle farming, methane emissions are above average. Methane emissions per m2 are even higher in areas with intensive farming of pigs.