Dutch environment "improving too slowly"

Targets for climate change will not be met with current policies, says national research institute

The Netherlands will not meet its Kyoto climate targets without additional measures, Rivm, the Dutch institute of public health and the environment, said today. In an environmental exploration for the coming thirty years intended to form a basis for policy making, it says that of all EU countries the Netherlands has the biggest gap to bridge between the current emissions and its Kyoto targets.

Without additional measures, emissions will grow by up to 20% from 235m tonnes CO2 equivalents in 1995 to 250-285m tonnes in 2030. The target for 2008-2012 under the EU's "burden sharing" scheme is 206m tonnes.

Last year, CO2 emissions decreased by 2% because of increased electricity imports. Without this, emissions would have grown 1-2%, Rivm says. Currently, emissions are 7% higher than in 1990, whereas the Netherlands is committed to a 6% cut in all greenhouse gas emission from the same date by 2008-2012.

Rivm says further that half of the environmental pressure in the Netherlands is related to export. Over half of nitrogen emissions into the air is related to export and 80% of agricultural nitrogen surplus comes from export production. Export will also play a significant role in the growing direct and indirect energy use.

More efforts are also needed t improve air quality, the institute says. Even though emissions are decreasing, in 2010 acidifying substances and nitrogen will show 60-70% higher levels than the present targets. This will lead to a growing number of earlier deaths related to air pollution as the older people, more sensitive to pollution, become a larger proportion of the total. In addition, without policy changes serious noise pollution from road traffic, aeroplanes and neighbours will grow by 20-50%. Silent areas are becoming more scarce and remote.

* In a separate report published today, Rivm looks back over the last thirty years of environmental policy. It concludes that environmental pressures have declined in absolute terms. It concludes, however, that in housing, work and transportation economic and social interests have "counted heavily" with questions related to energy use, mobility and spatial demands.

This has contributed to worsening environmental trends such as increasing CO2 emissions and disappearing plants. Further, road traffic, aeroplanes and neighbours were the most important sources of noise pollution. Rivm concludes that tensions between individual freedom and collective values like silence, tranquillity and safety are growing.

Follow Up:
Rivm, tel: +31 30 274 2560. See also Rivm press release, and the full text of Environment Balance 2000 and National Environmental Prospective 2000-2030.

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