Greenhouse gas emissions 3 percent down in 2019

© Hollandse Hoogte / Peter Hilz
In 2019, greenhouse gas emissions declined by 3 percent (5.7 megatonnes) to 182.5 megatonnes of CO2 equivalents year-on-year. This is 18 percent lower than in 1990. Over the past four years, emissions were mainly down in the electricity sector. The impact of the expected crisis due to COVID-19 is visible in the carbon price drop. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) together with the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and Registration of Emissions (ER) on the basis of provisional figures.

Greenhouse gas emissions1)
JaartalManufacturing (megatonnes of CO2 equivalents)Electricity (megatonnes of CO2 equivalents)Mobility (megatonnes of CO2 equivalents)Agriculture (megatonnes of CO2 equivalents)Built environment (megatonnes of CO2 equivalents)
199087.0039.6032.2032.9029.90
199188.1040.1032.7034.3034.10
199289.6040.6034.1034.1031.50
199386.1041.9035.2034.1033.30
199487.4045.7034.6032.6031.10
199582.7047.8035.2032.7033.20
199685.6048.3036.6033.3038.50
199785.3048.5036.6031.1032.70
199885.6050.2037.3030.3031.30
199977.0047.2038.1029.4029.70
200075.3048.4038.0028.5029.70
200170.8051.9038.2027.8031.40
200270.0053.0038.7026.2030.20
200368.7053.7039.1025.9031.40
200468.9054.9039.5025.9031.10
200567.3052.1039.8026.1029.30
200666.0047.9040.7025.6029.40
200765.3050.6039.7026.2026.30
200861.0050.0039.9027.3029.30
200957.0049.9038.3027.2029.40
201060.0052.0039.0028.8033.90
201158.9047.8038.9027.3026.60
201258.0044.8037.1027.0028.80
201356.9044.9036.3027.2030.10
201455.8048.6034.3026.0023.00
201556.4053.3034.6027.0024.50
201656.5052.2034.7027.2024.90
201757.5048.5035.3027.4024.70
201856.8044.9035.6026.5024.40
201956.3041.8035.0026.3023.10
2020
Source: CBS, RIVM/Emissieregistratie
1)Target for 2020: 166.2 megatonnes of CO2 equivalents

Last year, the electricity sector emitted 42 megatonnes of CO2, versus 53 megatonnes in 2015. The peak in 2015 is mainly related to the opening of new coal plants. CO2 emission levels dropped again in the three subsequent years as old plants were gradually being closed down. In 2019, both a low natural gas price and a high carbon price resulted in the increased use of gas-fired power plants and less coal-fired power generation.

Electricity production in the Netherlands rose to a record high in 2019, as electricity imports were 24 percent lower. As a result of this production increase and the substitution of coal by natural gas, CO2 emissions by gas-fired plants were 4.4 megatonnes up and emissions by coal-fired plants were lower by 6.5 megatonnes.

Greenhouse gas emissions by electricity sector
 Total (megatonnes of CO2 equivalents)Coal (megatonnes of CO2 equivalents)Natural gas (megatonnes of CO2 equivalents)Other (megatonnes of CO2 equivalents)
199039.622.013.34.3
199140.119.815.84.5
199240.619.616.54.5
199341.919.017.75.2
199445.721.817.26.7
199547.823.117.87.0
199648.321.819.76.8
199748.520.520.57.5
199850.221.621.17.6
199947.217.921.67.8
200048.419.921.37.1
200151.921.323.07.6
200253.021.523.67.8
200353.722.023.58.3
200454.921.225.58.2
200552.119.823.98.4
200647.919.422.85.6
200750.620.423.66.6
200850.019.623.86.5
200949.919.725.64.6
201052.018.527.26.3
201147.817.423.76.7
201244.820.018.26.6
201344.921.017.76.3
201448.624.217.17.3
201553.331.615.06.7
201652.228.517.26.5
201748.523.918.46.2
201844.920.417.96.5
201941.813.922.35.6
Source: CBS, RIVM/Emissieregistratie

Carbon price down due to COVID-19 measures

This year, the carbon price applied in European emissions trading fell from approximately 24 euros per tonne at the beginning of January to less than 17 euros per tonne in the second half of March. The decline started on 12 March, one day after the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic. Normally, a lower carbon price is a modest financial incentive to invest in measures to reduce emissions.

The sharp carbon price drop (-29 percent) is in response to an anticipated global recession due to COVID-19. A sharp carbon price drop was also seen at the end of 2008, during the financial crisis: 61 percent within a period of five months. This is linked to lower expectations in the financial markets regarding manufacturing production and energy consumption. The expected lower emissions lead to lower demand for emission allowances.

The carbon price recovered somewhat in April 2020. It is too early to determine what the long-term effect is.

Carbon price in 2020 per week
MaandWeekPrice (euros per tonne (current prices))
January124.67
January224.26
January324.48
January424.77
January524.10
February623.38
February723.76
February825.38
February924.00
March1023.56
March1123.12
March1217.05
March1316.61
April1417.45
April1520.68
April1620.47
April1720.65
April1819.77
Source: CBS, Ember

Greenhouse gas emission target for 2020

It has been decided in the Urgenda climate case that the Netherlands must aim for at least 25 percent reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 relative to 1990. In 2019, emissions were reduced by 18 percent relative to 1990. The target for 2020 will be met if emissions are at least 16.3 megatonnes of CO2 equivalents lower than in 2019.

Major reduction requirement for 2030 targets imposed on electricity production and manufacturing

For 2030, the climate agreement aims at a 49-percent reduction relative to 1990. Over the next 11 years, a reduction of 70 megatonnes of CO2 equivalents will be needed to achieve this goal. Between 1990 and 2019, a reduction of 39 megatonnes of CO2 equivalents was achieved. The bulk of this reduction was accounted for by non-CO2 greenhouse gases, such as methane, nitrous oxide and so-called F-gases; these emissions halved between 1990 and 2019. CO2 emissions, on the other hand, remained more or less the same during this period.

In order to achieve the 2030 objective, sector targets have been agreed in the climate agreement. The largest reduction requirement lies with electricity producers and the manufacturing industry. Together, they account for 50 out of 70 megatonnes of CO2 equivalents. Three-quarters of the manufacturing industry and almost the entire electricity sector are obliged to participate in European emissions trading.

The remaining reduction requirement of 20 megatonnes of CO2 equivalents lies with the sectors of agriculture, mobility (traffic and transport) and built environment. This is to be achieved outside of emissions trading.

Greenhouse gas emissions
 1990 (megatonnes of CO2 equivalents per year)2005 (megatonnes of CO2 equivalents per year)2019 (megatonnes of CO2 equivalents per year)Target for 2030 (megatonnes of CO2 equivalents per year)
Manufacturing87.067.356.335.7
Electricity39.652.141.812.4
Mobility32.239.835.025.0
Agriculture32.926.126.322.2
Built environment29.929.323.115.3
Source: CBS, RIVM/Emissieregistratie