The Heat Is Online

Dutch Reduce Emissions to 1990 Levels in mid-2006

Dutch Greenhouse Gas Emissions Now at 1990 Levels

The Associated Press,
Sept. 05, 2006


AMSTERDAM, Netherlands  Greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands fell by around 2 percent in 2005 from a year earlier and were at approximately the same level they were in 1990, a government agency said Monday.

Climate change watchdogs generally praised the announcement by the country's Central Bureau for Statistics, but said the public should be skeptical about how the fall in emissions was measured and what it means.

"It's a good thing, but they (the Dutch) still have a way to go in order to meet their targets under Kyoto," said Joris Thijssen of Greenpeace, referring to the international treaty under which the Netherlands agreed to reduce its emissions to 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2010.

The statistics agency said that total Dutch emissions were 214 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide or equivalents, down 2 percent from 2004 and just fractionally higher than 213 billion kilograms in 1990.

Agency spokesman Michiel Vergeer said the fall from 2004 was due to carbon dioxide emissions saved by increased use of biomass fuel for electricity generation, by households using less energy for heating during a warm winter, and by increased import of electricity.

However, each of those reasons has a downside. A warm winter could be just a fluke, or it could be due to global warming. Dutch biomass generators have been accused of buying some fuel from suppliers in developing countries who chop down old-growth forest to make room for biomass crops. And when the Netherlands imports more electricity, that means the exporters -- Germany and to a lesser extent France -- will have higher emissions.

"We just report the data, it's up to others to interpret it," Vergeer said.

John Hay, spokesman for the U.N.'s climate change agency UNFCCC, said the Dutch announcement was "a good sign of sound international policies," and added the U.N. would be releasing a broader report on the international emissions landscape in October.

"A group of Kyoto countries are set to have rising emissions," in 2008 he said. "Among high-performing economies some are doing well, others are off the mark." He gave the example of Spain as a country likely to miss its Kyoto targets because it has undergone faster economic growth than other parts of Europe in the past 16 years.

The Netherlands also grew fast in the 1990s, and its carbon dioxide emissions have actually risen. But that's been compensated by reductions in emissions of methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorine, greenhouse gases that are believed to contribute disproportionately to global warming.

Thijssen of Greenpeace said that the Dutch government would meet its Kyoto goals not by further reductions, but by buying pollution credits from developing countries, which is allowed under the 1997 treaty.

"Initially they said that they would aim for a 50-50 split between emissions reductions in the Netherlands and emission reductions elsewhere," he said. "Now they've let go of that."

He noted that the government last month announced a freeze on new applications for subsidies for renewable energy projects because it believes it will meet its Kyoto targets and a goal of having 9 percent of electricity generated from renewable sources by 2010.

Source: Associated Press