Netherlands emitted slightly more CO2 last year, breaking declining trend

The Netherlands emitted 0.03 percent more CO2 last year, putting an end to the declining trend that started in 2015. The increase is partly due to coal-fired power stations in the country emitting 69 percent more CO2 last year than the year before, NOS reports based on figures from the Dutch Emissions Authority (NEa).

Mark Bressers of the NEa called the figures disappointing. “After years of a gradual decrease in CO2 emissions in the Netherlands, we now see that this development has stopped. That is very unfortunate. Because the emission levels must, of course, be further reduced because of the climate.”

The main culprit behind the increased emissions is the high price of natural gas, which meant that power plants used more coal to generate electricity last year. Firing coal releases more CO2 than natural gas. The largest coal-fired power station in the Netherlands, the RWE one in Eemshaven, emitted twice as much CO2 – 5.3 megatons last year compared to 2.5 megatons in 2020. Together, the coal-fired power stations accounted for 7 percent of the total emissions in the Netherlands.

The situation will likely be different this year because coal-fired power stations are only allowed to use up to 35 percent of their capacity.

The NEa figures also show that the industry is not succeeding in lowering emissions. Since the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, emissions in this sector have hardly decreased.