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?
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.