Greenhouse gas emissions lower in Q3 2021

In Q3 2021, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions showed a year-on-year decrease of 3 percent. The decrease is mainly due to lower electricity production. 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, Q3
   CO2 (megatonnes of CO2 equivalent)Other greenhouse gases (megatonnes of CO2 equivalent)
Total IPCC2021*29.66.5
Total IPCC2020*30.66.4
Total IPCC201931.26.6
Buildings and construction2021*20.1
Buildings and construction2020*20.1
Buildings and construction201920.1
* provisional figures

Fewer emissions in the electricity sector

Increased gas prices and relatively cheaper electricity from abroad, generated by nuclear and coal-fired power stations, led to higher imports (66 percent) and less production (-15 percent) of electricity in the third quarter of 2021 than one year previously. Due to the decline in production, the electricity sector emitted fewer greenhouse gases (-14 percent) despite burning more coal. Increasing production from renewable sources also reduced emissions.

Emissions from other sectors virtually unchanged

In the summer months, energy consumption by construction and buildings and agriculture does not vary much from year to year. In the colder months, sunshine duration and temperature play an important role in the energy consumption by these two sectors, but this additional consumption is virtually nil during summer.

Emissions from manufacturing and transport in Q3 were also approximately the same as in the third quarter of 2020. This means that emissions from the transport sector were still below pre-pandemic levels.

Emissions in first three quarters of 2021 below pre-pandemic levels

In the first three quarters of 2021, more greenhouse gases were emitted than in the same period of 2020 (3 percent). Although emissions in Q3 were lower than one year earlier (-3 percent), emissions in Q2 were substantially higher (+11 percent). Emissions were also higher in Q1 (+2 percent). Compared to two years previously, however, total emissions in the first three quarters were still lower (-6 percent).

GHG emissions by source sector, total first 3 quarters
 2021 (megatons of CO2-equivalent)2020 (megatons of CO2-equivalent)2019 (megatons of CO2-equivalent)
Total IPCC123.5119.5131.3
Buildings and construction16.714.415.4

Statistics Netherlands also calculates CO2 emissions from all domestic economic activities according to the national accounts. Compared to 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 also lower in Q3 2021

CO2 emissions from all economic activities in the Netherlands were 0.6 percent lower in Q3 than in the same quarter of 2020, while GDP grew by 5.0 percent in the same period. Here, too, the main cause is the lower production by the electricity sector.

However, CO2 emissions by the transport sector (including aviation) were 28 percent higher than one year previously. This is mainly due to the partial recovery of aviation. Relative to the same period in 2019, however, emissions from aviation were around one-quarter lower. Emissions from inland navigation were also up on Q3 2020: more than 15 percent. In the third quarter of 2021, maritime transport emitted less than twelve months previously.

CO2 emissions and economic development, Q3 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)0.5
Transport sector28.119.9
manufacturing and construction
Other services-5.55
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.