Greenhouse gas emissions almost back at pre-COVID level

© Hollandse Hoogte / Ramon van Flymen
In Q2 2021, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions showed a year-on-year increase of 11 percent. This means emissions are nearing pre-COVID levels. The increase is mainly due to higher natural gas consumption, for heating and higher manufacturing output among other things. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)/Emissions Register report this on the basis of the latest quarterly figures on GHG emissions in accordance with the IPCC guidelines.

GHG emissions by source sector, Q1
   CO2 (megatonnes of CO2 equivalent)Other greenhouse gases (megatonnes of CO2 equivalent)
Buildings and construction2021*4.60.1
Buildings and construction2020*3.40.1
Buildings and construction20193.70.1
Total IPCC2021*32.36.6
Total IPCC2020*28.56.5
Total IPCC2019346.8
* provisional figures

Colder and less sunny

Just as in the previous quarter, households used more natural gas in Q2 2021 year-on-year. This was mainly because of the colder weather. As a result, emissions from buildings and construction were approximately 34 percent higher than in Q2 2020.

It was not only colder, but also less sunny than in the same quarter last year. As a result, agriculture needed more electricity for lighting greenhouses. Greenhouse horticulture obtains most of its electricity from the use of natural gas in its own combined heat and power installations (CHP), as a result of which agriculture also emitted more greenhouse gases (7 percent).

The short-term development of greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and construction and agriculture is not only influenced by the weather, but it often plays a major role.

Higher manufacturing output

Manufacturing output grew by around 14 percent in Q2 2021 relative to the same quarter last year. This required more energy (mainly natural gas consumption) and partly because of this, emissions from manufacturing were approximately 13 percent higher than one year previously.

Emissions by electricity sector hardly higher

In Q2 2021, emissions by the electricity sector were hardly higher than in the same quarter last year (2 percent). This development is virtually the same as for electricity production. Although natural gas plants produced less because of rising gas prices on the world market, this was partly offset by higher electricity production by coal-fired power plants.

Contributions of greenhouse gas emissions by source sector, Q2 2021
Buildings and construction12.1

Statistics Netherlands also calculates CO2 emissions from all Dutch economic activities according to the national accounts. Compared to the emissions according to the IPCC definitions, this also includes the CO2 emissions from international air and sea transport and the emissions from combustion of biomass. In the message below, the CO2 emissions are presented in accordance with the calculation method of the national accounts.

CO2 emissions by Dutch economy considerably higher in Q2 2021

CO2 emissions from all economic activities in the Netherlands were 14.1 percent higher in Q2 than in the same quarter of 2020. This means that emissions rose more sharply than gross domestic product (GDP). Higher emissions were mainly due to higher output of the manufacturing and transport sector. In Q2 2021, GDP was up by 9.7 percent year-on-year.

CO2 emissions by the transport sector (including aviation) were 23.5 percent higher than one year previously. This is due to the partial recovery of aviation, among other things. Because of the lockdown, many flights were cancelled and a large part of the fleet was grounded in Q2 2020. Compared to two years ago, emissions from aviation were around half lower.
Emissions from household car use were also higher year-on-year: over 23 percent. Other road transport also emitted more in the second quarter than twelve months previously. In Q2 2020, traffic intensity was at a low point.

CO2 emissions and economic development, Q2 2021
CategoriesCO2 emissions (year-on-year volume change in %)Value added (year-on-year volume change in %)GDP (year-on-year volume change in %)
Total (weather adjusted)9.2
Transport sector23.517.6
Other services16.97.9
manufacturing and construction
Energy and water supply,
waste management

The calculations of CO2 emissions are a first estimate based on information available at that particular moment. Figures may change as a result of new statistical source information becoming available at a later stage.