Emissions of National Emission Ceiling (NEC) substances, 1990-2012

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Emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia, particulate matter and NMVOCs have declined considerably since 1990. All emissions in 2012 were below the European emission ceiling.

Considerable decrease in emissions of acidifying substances, NMVOCs and particulate matter

There was a significant decrease in emissions of the acidifying substances ammonia (NH3), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) between 1990 and 2000. Emissions of particulate matter (PM10) and volatile organic compounds (non-methane VOCs) also declined considerably in this period.
Emissions of most substances decreased further after 2000, although less markedly than during the previous period. The exception is NOX, emissions of which decreased at the same rate as during the previous period. SO2 emissions decreased significantly after 2007. The following sections detail the trend for each pollutant.

Nitrogen oxide emissions decreased by 57?% after 1990; just below 2010 emission ceiling

Total emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) were lower in 2012 than in 2011, at 248 ktons. This is just below the 2010 emission ceiling of 260 kilotons. This decrease was mainly due to a decline in emissions from traffic, the energy sector. Reduced emissions from traffic were achieved through EU emission standards for new cars and lorries, while the decrease in the energy sector was due to a significant reduction in electricity generation.
The decrease in the energy sector was caused by a decrease in the production of electricity as a result of an increase in the import of electricity, in particular from Germany. Part of the decline was counterbalanced by an increase in emissions from households and services caused by the cold winter.

Sulphur dioxide emissions decreased by 82%; well below NEC

Emissions of SO2 have decreased considerably since 2007, to about 34 kilotons in 2012. This is well below the NEC for SO2: 50 kilotons from 2010. The lower SO2 emissions between 2008 and 2012 were mainly due to the change made from oil-powered to gas-powered refineries, as well as the further tightening of regulations regarding the maximum sulphur content of red diesel, used in inland shipping, fisheries and mobile machinery.

Ammonia emissions decreased by 66%; below NEC

Emissions of ammonia (NH3) decreased by about 5 kilotons compared with 2010, to 120 kilotons in 2012. This is 8 kilotons below the 2010 emission ceiling of 128 kilotons. The decrease after 2007 is mainly due to a tightening of regulations in 2008 concerning manure spreading on agricultural land, as well as changes made to animal housing in the intensive livestock farming sector. The further decrease in 2012 is a consequence of the expansion of low-emission housing and reduced nitrogen levels in cattle feed.

Emissions of volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) well below emission ceiling

NMVOC emissions have declined by 70% since 1990, to about 146 kilotons in 2012. This is well below the NEC for NMVOCs: 185 kilotons from 2010.

Particulate matter (PM10) emissions decreased by 62% after 1990

Emissions of particulate matter (PM10) decreased by about 62% after 1990, from about 69 kilotons in 1990 to about 27 kilotons in 2012. Particulate matter emissions are not included in the current NEC directive.

New insight into emissions data

For a comprehensive overview of all the changes, please visit the website of the Pollutant Release & Transfer Register: www.emissieregistratie.nl.


Technical explanation

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Reference of this webpage

CBS, PBL, RIVM, WUR (2024). Emissions of National Emission Ceiling (NEC) substances, 1990-2012 (indicator 0183, version 20,

) www.clo.nl. 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.