Although economic growth is almost always accompanied by an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, there is some good news. Last year, greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands went down 1% compared to 2016, while in the 5 years before that, emissions were constant, according to a recent report from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM). The decrease is mainly due to the fact that less coal was burned to generate energy.
But it gets better: greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 were 193 billion kilos; 13 percent lower than in 1990. Partly because energy companies used more natural gas and less coal in 2017, carbon dioxide emissions decreased to 49 billion kilograms. A year earlier, that was still 52 billion. In 2020, the emission of greenhouse gases should be no more than 166 billion, in 2030, the maximum is set to 113 billion.
According to the RIVM, air pollution has also decreased over the last decades, which means the Dutch almost meet the European standards for air quality.
In 2016, the emission of particulates, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and volatile organic compounds decreased slightly again. Only ammonia emissions went up in 2016, compared to the year before. Reason? The amount of cows in the country. But even this is changing.
In a report published in April 2018, there were over 200,000 cows less on April 1st 2018 than on the same date a year previously. But there’s room for improvement there. Researcher Theun Vellinga from Wageningen University revived an old notion he has been advocating for years: the dual-purpose cow. The dual-purpose cow yields both milk and meat. The specialization in milk or meat brought us almost meatless dairy cows and meat cows that collapse under their own weight. The dual-purpose cow is more robust and is less prone to illnesses inherent to livestock farming. The dual-purpose cow can reduce the amount of cows in the Netherlands and, by extension, reduce the ammonia emissions.
This post is also available in: Dutch