Greenhouse gas emissions from the production side

Examination of the Netherlands greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the production side results in the following observations. Total GHG emissions in the Netherlands are 220 109 kg CO2 equivalent (RIVM, 2001) of which CO2 is the most important. The CO2 emissions arise mainly due to the use of fossil energy sources for needed production energy. Figure 12.1 shows CO2 emissions by production sector. Energy production, transport and industry produce the largest amounts. The emissions by the agricultural sector are only 5% of the country total. Within this sector the heated glasshouses in horticulture are the largest emitters.

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Figure 12.1 Contribution of the various production sectors to the total national

CO2 emissions in the Netherlands Source: RIVM (2001).

Figure 12.1 Contribution of the various production sectors to the total national

CO2 emissions in the Netherlands Source: RIVM (2001).

When we focus on other greenhouse gasses, we find that the agricultural sector plays an important role with respect to the emissions of CH4 and N2O. Figures 12.2 and 12.3 show these emissions by sector. Nearly 50% of the national N2O emissions occur in agriculture. This is mainly due to de-nitrification processes in soils resulting from application of manure and chemical fertilizers. Emissions from grasslands (dairy production) hold the largest share. A large part of the N2O

emitted in industry is also associated with agriculture: the production of chemical fertilizer involves substantial emissions of N2O (Kramer, 2000).

Figure 12.2 Contribution of the various production sectors to the total national

N2O emissions in the Netherlands Source: RIVM (2001).

Figure 12.2 Contribution of the various production sectors to the total national

N2O emissions in the Netherlands Source: RIVM (2001).

In terms of methane, 42% of the national CH4 emissions originate from agriculture (figure 12.3). Enteric fermentation processes in ruminants (cows and sheep) are the largest suppliers, with again dairy farming being the largest contributor.

The above information is suggestive of several options to reduce national GHG emissions. The most extreme option is cessation of agricultural production in the Netherlands. The information in Figures 12.1, 12.2 and 12.3 indicates that this would result in a decline of 5% in CO2 emissions, 50% in N2O emissions and 40% in the CH4 emissions. It is obvious that this is only a theoretical option, but in an analysis of possible trade-off's it is interesting to evaluate the consequences. It should be realized that options as 'decline production' in general or 'decline of the number livestock' are just milder forms of this option.

Another option involves greenhouse gas emission reducing improvements in the production system. Agricultural production can take place via various routes and up to now improvements were focused on the reduction of the acidification and eutrophication problems related to agriculture. The reduction of the GHG emissions from this sector has not received a lot of attention, and thus it is likely that there are opportunities that will lead to reduced emissions.

Figure 12.3 Contribution of the various production sectors to the total national

CH4 emissions in the Netherlands Source: RIVM (2001).

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