Half of transport GHG emissions are from aviation

© Hollandse Hoogte
In 2018, the volume of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted by the Dutch transport sector amounted to 26 billion CO2 equivalents. This is almost the same as in 2012. Aviation contributed 49 percent, while road haulage was responsible for 21 percent. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new figures.

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In 2018, greenhouse gas emissions in the Dutch transport sector stood at 26 billion CO2 equivalents. This represents 12 percent of total GHG emissions by the Dutch economy. Within the transport sector, aviation was responsible for nearly half of GHG emissions (49 percent), followed by water transport (maritime transport and inland navigation) (26 percent) and road haulage (21 percent). Two-thirds of transport emissions fall outside the scope of the climate targets for the Netherlands, i.e. those emitted by international aviation and maritime transport.

Since 2010, GHG emissions in the transport sector have risen by 3 percent, while total emissions by the Dutch economy declined by 8 percent over this period. Emissions rose notably in aviation, namely by 13 percent. A decline was seen in water transport and road haulage, by 2 and 8 percent respectively.

Calculation of GHG emissions by the Dutch economy

GHG emissions by the transport sector and the Dutch economy are calculated according to guidelines laid down in the System of Environmental Economic Accounts (SEEA), the so-called environmental accounts. GHG emissions by the Dutch economy consist of emissions which are caused by Dutch activities and fall within the scope of the national accounts, in order to be directly consistent with macroeconomic data, e.g. gross domestic product. Emissions by the Dutch economy deviate from national emissions calculated according to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Included in both totals but falling outside the scope of the Dutch transport sector are GHG emissions by domestic transport movements of households and transport carried out by companies that are not part of the transport sector.

GHG emissions in the transport sector
BedrijfstakOverland transport (bn CO2 equivalents)Transport by water (bn CO2 equivalents)Transport by air (bn CO2 equivalents)Transport services (bn CO2 equivalents)

High transport emissions outside the Netherlands

A large part of the Netherlands’ transport activities takes place beyond Dutch borders. As a result, 75 percent of greenhouse gases are emitted abroad. For road haulage this is 30 percent, for inland navigation 38 percent. Of all maritime transport, 93 percent of GHG emissions occur outside the Dutch territorial waters. For aviation, the share amounts to 95 percent.

Emissions abroad, 2018
Sector% (%)
Overland transport29.7
Inland navigation37.9
Maritime transport92.9

Emission intensity in aviation and water transport declining

The transport sector is emission-intensive. This is due to large quantities of motor fuels (petrol, diesel, LPG, fuel oil, kerosene), which release CO2 into the air. Aviation and water transport in particular emit far more GHGs per euro of value added than average in the economy.

The emission intensity of the transport sector fell by 8 percent between 2010 and 2018. In comparison, the emission intensity of the Dutch economy as a whole dropped by 18 percent over this period. The sharpest drop was seen in aviation: 20 percent. The economic activities in the aviation industry involve increasingly low emission levels, due to shorter average flight distances, fuel efficiency improvements and a higher utilisation rate of aircraft, for example. Average flight distances have become shorter because flights to European destinations have increased more rapidly than intercontinental flights. The emission intensity has also declined in maritime transport and inland navigation since 2010, by 14 percent. Important contributors in this respect are more efficient motors and the use of increasingly large vessels. Road haulage recorded a drop in emission intensity of 17 percent.

GHG emission intensity
Sector2018 (CO2 equivalents per euro)2010 (CO2 equivalents per euro)
Air transport3.003.75
Maritime transport2.392.78
Overland transport0.470.57
Transport sector0.800.87
Dutch economy0.280.34