Photo description: The Engie coal plant in Rotterdam, Maasvlakte industrial area. Coal depot in the foreground (EECV Europoort CV).

Greenhouse gases

In 2010, key targets were set to cut greenhouse gas emissions by government leaders of all EU member states. In the 2015 Urgenda Climate Case against the Dutch government, a Dutch court ruled that emissions must be reduced by at least 25 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. A 20-percent reduction target applies to Europe as a whole. Which countries are the main contributors? In which countries have reductions been most substantial? And what about the transition from fossil to renewable energy?

Meetlat-8-broeikasgassen_ENG L U EE IE CZ NL DE PL C Y BE FI A T GR BG SL EU DK SK ES L T UK I T P T FR HU HR RO L V SE M T 8.4 tonnes 11.3 tonnes G r e e n h o u s e g a s e m i s s i o n s per c a p i t a , 2017 ( t o n n e s o f C O 2 e q u i v a l e n t)

Greenhouse gas emissions are relatively high in the Netherlands, contributing 4.5 percent to the EU’s total. The Dutch emit 34 percent more greenhouse gases per capita than the average European. Only four EU countries perform worse than the Netherlands in this respect.

Emissions are related to the size of the economy, which in the Netherlands is relatively large per capita. Emission intensity is a measure of how much greenhouse gas is emitted per euro of gross domestic product (GDP). The emission intensity of the Dutch economy is comparable to the EU average. Seventeen EU countries – mainly in Eastern Europe – have a higher emission intensity than the Netherlands. The fact that our country has relatively low emissions relative to its GDP is partly linked to high net imports of electricity and the relatively large size of the service sector.

4.5% contributed to the EU’s GHG emissions by the Netherlands
24% lower GHG emissions around the EU in 2017 than in 1990

Substantial reductions in Eastern Europe

It was agreed some years ago that by 2020, greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union must be at least 20 percent lower than in 1990. In 2017, these emissions were 24 percent down on 1990. The Netherlands realised a 13-percent reduction. Eighteen EU countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, achieved larger reductions. After the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989), many polluting industries were closed down or modernised.

High imports of non-renewable raw materials

Dutch imports of fossil, non-renewable raw materials (oil, coal, gas) are persistently high, which is a vulnerable area. Imports of fossil energy carriers are relatively high as well and growing almost continuously.


Eurostat – Greenhouse gases


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2018-2019 2018 to 2019 inclusive
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Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

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