Greenhouse gas emissions, 1990-2018

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In 2018, greenhouse gas emissions were 2.7% lower than in 2017, a decrease of 5.1 Mton CO2 equivalents. Emissions in 2018 were 15.1% lower than in 1990. The target for 2020 compared to 1990 is a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The reduction between 1990 and 2018 is for the most part for other greenhouse gases: emissions of CH4, N2O and F-gases were 53% lower in 2018 than in 1990. CO2 emissions in 2018 were 1.6% lower than in 1990.

Decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in 2018

Greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 2.7% in 2018 from 193.3 to 188.2 Mton CO2-eq. compared to 2017. This decrease is mainly due to the decrease in CO2 emissions. Emissions of other greenhouse gases decreased slightly.
In 2018, CO2 emissions decreased by 4.3 Mton compared to 2017 to 160.6 Mton. The decrease is mainly due to the fact that less coal is used for electricity production. Emissions of other greenhouse gases (methane, nitrous oxide and F-gases) decreased by 0.8 Mton.

Trend since 1990 level for CO2 and decreasing for other greenhouse gases

Greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 were 15.1% lower than in 1990. The vast majority of this decrease between 1990 and 2018 occurred with the other greenhouse gases: emissions of CH4, N2O and F-gases were 53% lower in 2018 than in 1990. The decrease took place mainly between 1990 and 2008, and has levelled off since then.
CO2 emissions in 2018 were 1.6% lower than in 1990, while the sectors causing these emissions have become increasingly large. CO2 emissions have not kept pace with the growth of these sectors. The most important developments were:

  • -Increasing the efficiency of power plants;
  • -energy saving measures within industry;
  • -more electricity production from wind;
  • -reduced use of fossil fuels per kilometre travelled;
  • -improved insulation and greater use of high-efficiency boilers in homes.
  • and commercial buildings.

Emissions of CH4 decreased by 46% compared to 1990.
Most of this decrease is due to the reduction of emissions from landfills. There has also been a decrease in the agricultural sector and in the energy sector. The decrease in the agricultural sector is mainly due to a decrease in animal numbers and the amount of manure produced. In the energy sector, measures have been taken to reduce emissions resulting from the venting of crude natural gas during oil and gas extraction.
Emissions of N2O decreased by 54% in 2018 compared to 1990. This reduction in N2O emissions was achieved in the chemical industry and the agricultural sector. The decrease in emissions in the chemical industry is due to N2O reduction measures in the production of nitric acid in 2006 and 2007. These measures were taken because in 2008 nitric acid production was brought under the European Emissions Trading System (ETS), which gave emissions a price. The decline in the agricultural sector (which took place between 1990 and 2010) has several causes: a decrease in animal numbers, lower use of both fertilizer and animal manure, and lower N emissions per animal due to a lower N content in feed.
In 2018, total emissions of F-gases fell by 77% compared to 1990. The reduction in F-gas emissions is mainly due to reduction measures taken as part of the Other Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan.

Climate policy objectives

In 2016, State Secretary Dijksma signed the Paris Climate Agreement on behalf of the 28 member states of the European Union. The agreement will enter into force in 2020. In order to achieve this goal, EU member states have agreed that the EU must reduce emissions by at least 40% in 2030 compared to 1990. The European Commission assesses the climate plans of the EU member states against the targets set. It is relevant to note that the Netherlands now has a national target of a 49% reduction in emissions in 2030 compared to 1990.

The Climate Act lays down the percentage by which the Netherlands must reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

  • - 49% less greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990.

In order to achieve this goal, the government, companies and civil society organizations have concluded a Climate Agreement. There are also agreements between these parties.

  • - 95% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 compared to 1990.

In addition, by the end of 2020 the Dutch state must emit at least 25% less greenhouse gases than in 1990. The Supreme Court ruled this on 20 December 2019 in proceedings brought by Urgenda against the Dutch State. With this judgment the Supreme Court confirms the judgment of the Court of The Hague on 9 October 2018. The judgment is now final, and the Cabinet will enforce the judgment.


Technical explanation

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Reference of this webpage

CBS, PBL, RIVM, WUR (2024). Greenhouse gas emissions, 1990-2018 (indicator 0165, version 32,

) Statistics Netherlands (CBS), The Hague; PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague; RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven; and Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen.