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The Netherlands takes positive step by reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 7.9%

In 2022, the Netherlands has taken a positive step in the fight against climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 7.9% compared to 2021. This is according to the latest RIVM figures they published on 8 September 2023 (the Dutch RIVM is the equivalent of the UK’s UKHSA).

Urgenda targets surpassed

The Urgenda targets Urgenda is a civil society organisation for innovation and sustainability that works with businesses, governments, civil society organisations and individuals to make the Netherlands sustainable faster. They do this based on our vision 2030 with a concrete action plan and projects. , adopted in 2015, were aimed at drastically reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to contribute to global efforts against climate change. Specifically, the Urgenda case demanded a reduction of at least 25% from 1990 levels by 2020.

According to RIVM, the Netherlands has managed to surpass them by 2022. The Dutch greenhouse gas emissions were as much as 30% below 1990 levels.

How the decrease came about

Our efforts of the Dutch to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are the result of several initiatives and changes, RIVM reports:

  • Agriculture: The agricultural sector has made significant strides. By reducing the number of animals in pig and poultry farming, they have reduced emissions related to these sectors. Moreover, an adjustment in the nitrogen content in dairy cattle feed led to a 1.1% drop in ammonia emissions. This is crucial, as ammonia is a major contributor to air pollution and climate change.
  • Energy: energy consumption has a direct impact on greenhouse gas emissions. By 2022, the Dutch saw a 2.4% drop in nitrous oxide emissions, mainly due to reduced use of natural gas by consumers, agriculture and industry. High fuel prices undoubtedly contributed to this, making alternative and more sustainable energy sources more attractive.
  • Transport: A modernised vehicle fleet has led not only to a reduction in NOx emissions, but also to an overall improvement in air quality. By investing in cleaner technologies and promoting electric driving, they have reduced vehicle emissions.
  • Consumer behaviour and Hand Disinfectants: It may sound surprising, but the use of hand disinfectants also affects emissions. These products contain volatile organic compounds that, when evaporated, contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone. Ozon is een krachtig Ozone is a potent greenhouse gas.. By 2022, the Dutch had better data on the use of these products, leading to a 10.6% decrease in NMVOC emissions. NMVOC stands for Non-Methane Volatile Organic Compounds. These are organic substances that, when released into the atmosphere, react with nitrogen oxides under the influence of sunlight, leading to the formation of ozone. By educating consumers and choosing more environmentally friendly products, we can further reduce these specific emissions. But it is likely that the drop is partly explained by the much lower consumption of such products in 2022.

While these 2022 results are encouraging, the Netherlands cannot sit back. Indeed, they need to work much harder on the transition to a sustainable society to mitigate climate change, restore nature and reverse biodiversity loss.

As the Netherlands takes steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Nikki Spil dives underwater for additional solutions. With Sea Farm IJmond, she is harnessing the power of seaweed to combat pollution and store CO2. At a time when we need all the innovation we can get, Nikki’s initiative shows how nature and science can work together for a more sustainable Netherlands.


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