Edition 2021

Foto omschrijving: Primary school students participating in ‘Warm Jersey Day’

How sustainable is our behaviour?

A majority of the population of the Netherlands is aware that climate change is a problem and is concerned about the consequences for future generations. However, this awareness does not always translate into sustainable action. Women behave more sustainably than men in day-to-day life. They wear a sweater more often when it gets cold (73 percent, compared to 64 percent of men), take the car less often when travelling short distances (30 percent compared to 24 percent) and wear second-hand clothes more often (16 percent compared to 9 percent).

How sustainable is our behaviour?Avoid meat64%73%3%6%24%30%51%50%9%16%

The percentage of women who do not eat meat is twice as high as that of men (6 versus 3). Men and women do not differ in taking short showers, switching off lights in rooms where nobody is present or using the tumble dryer. There is also no difference between the genders when it comes to flying habits.

For the Perceptions study, in the period from February to June 2020 CBS asked more than 3.6 thousand inhabitants of the Netherlands aged 18 or older what they thought about climate change and the energy transition, and whether they are changing their behaviour in a sustainable direction to save the climate.

Six out of 10 people believe humans are the main cause of climate change

Six out of 10 adults believe that climate change is caused entirely (12 percent) or mainly (48 percent) by humans. Over one-quarter (27 percent) state that it is caused equally by humans and nature. Five percent believe nature is the main cause of climate change and 1 percent attribute climate change entirely to nature.

Cause of climate change, 2020
Oorzaak klimaatverandering Share
Entirely caused by human activity 11.9
Mainly caused by human activity 47.7
Caused equally by humans and nature 26.8
Mainly caused by nature 4.7
Entirely caused by nature 1.0
Don't know where the cause lies 1.9
No answer 0.3
Don't believe in climate change or don't know 5.7

Large majority want more green energy

Almost half of the adult population of the Netherlands would like to see less petroleum and natural gas use. About one in 10 thinks that the Netherlands should stop using these fossil fuels altogether. A large majority are in favour of green energy. For example, 83 percent want greater use of solar energy and 73 percent advocate greater use of wind energy. Many Dutch residents also see the use of hydro power and geothermal energy as sustainable alternatives. Opinions on the use of nuclear energy and biomass are divided.

Position on the use of energy sources, 2020 (% of adult inhabitants)
Energiebron More Same as now Less Not at all Don't know Don't know this source
Oil 1.3 15.7 48.4 13.1 18.3 3.2
Coal 1.3 6.3 32.5 43.7 14.1 2.2
Natural gas 6.5 24.8 48.4 8.6 10.5 1.1
Wind energy 72.5 14.4 4.9 1.7 5.7 0.9
Solar energy 83.0 9.0 1.3 1.0 5.0 0.7
Geothermal heat 56.3 10.8 4.0 2.6 17.7 8.5
Hydropower 67.9 10.5 1.4 1.3 14.6 4.3
Nuclear energy 25.0 12.4 17.8 25.4 16.4 2.9
Biomass 23.0 15.1 15.1 13.4 24.6 8.7

Most Dutch inhabitants in favour of wind turbines, but not in their backyard

A large proportion of the population, 71 percent, support the construction of new wind turbines in the Netherlands. However, the Dutch are less enthusiastic about having wind turbines in their own residential environment: 21 percent are in favour, 31 percent against and 43 percent have reservations about the location: the turbines must not be too close to their homes. Most people therefore prefer to have no wind turbines near their home.

53 percent positive about the energy transition

Over half of the population believe it is positive or very positive that the government wants to make the Netherlands free of natural gas by switching to sustainable energy sources. The most frequently cited reason is that natural gas contributes to COemissions (and hence climate change). Another frequently cited reason is that the extraction of natural gas leads to earthquakes and soil subsidence, as is the case in Groningen. The fact that natural gas will eventually run out is also given as a reason why the Netherlands should become gas-free.

Opinion on transition from natural gas to sustainable energy sources, 2020
Houding Share
(Very) positive 53.4
Neutral 21.0
(Very) negative 19.0
Don't know 5.1
No answer 1.4

The questions


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Concept & image editor

Irene van Kuik


Janneke Hendriks

Richard Jollie

Hendrik Zuidhoek


Ronald van der Bie

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

Michel van Kooten

Sidney Vergouw

Paul de Winden

Karolien van Wijk

Gert Jan Wijma


Frans Dinnissen

Gaby de Vet

Taalcentrum VU

Final editor

Elma Wobma

We thank all CBS colleagues who have contributed to this edition of The Netherlands in numbers.