2. Dutch industry’s structure and emissions

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the Netherlands have been decreasing at a constant pace since 2000 at the economy-level (as shown by the solid blue line in Figure 2.1). Industry has contributed to this, slightly more than other sectors as their share in emissions is 26.6% in 2018, compared to 28.5% in 2000. However, the downward trajectory in industry’s emissions has stopped since the Great Financial Crisis, and their share in the total emissions has been rising since.

Industry accounts for the largest proportion of direct emissions (Scope 1, Box 2.1) in the Netherlands (Figure 2.3). Other important sectors include energy production, transport and agriculture.

The rest of this chapter will focus on four industrial sectors,1 which accounted for more than 90% of industry’s direct GHG emissions in 2018: chemicals, refineries, metals and food processing. The heaviest emitter is the chemical sector, representing 44% of industrial emissions (Figure 2.4). The three other sectors included are refineries, metals and food processing. These four sectors also account for a significant share of industry’s Scope 2 emissions, as they represent 72% of the electricity use of the manufacturing sector.2 Other emitting sectors include the “manufacture of other non-metallic mineral products” (4% of industrial emissions), the “manufacture of paper and paper products” (1%) and the “manufacture of fabricated metal products, except machinery and equipment” (1%).

Table 2.1 shows the economic importance of each industrial sector for the total economy, measured by gross output, value added, export and the number of employees. The manufacturing sector as a whole represents 12% of the total economy value-added and employs 10% of the workers in the Netherlands. However, unsurprisingly, the manufacturing sector is much more important in terms of export, with almost 45% of exports related to the industrial sector in terms of gross output and 36% in terms of domestic value-added content. When focusing on the four sectors responsible for most of the industrial emissions, they account for around a third of manufacturing value-added or employment, but half of exports (in gross output or value-added).

The Netherlands is specialised in products that are both highly traded and responsible for significant GHG emissions. The challenge is therefore to decarbonise these sectors while preserving competitiveness. A loss of competitiveness could not only affect economic prospects, but also, absent mechanisms to penalise carbon-intensive imports, lessen the efficiency of the green transition globally by shifting emissions abroad rather than reducing them (referred to as “carbon leakage”).

Dutch industry is very concentrated with 12 firms3 accounting for more than 60% of the industrial emissions,4 and five regional clusters including most of the heavy emitters: “Rotterdam-Moerdijk”; “Smart Delta Resources” (Zeeland); “Chemelot” (South-Limburg); “Noord Nederland” (Eemshaven, Delfzijl and Emmen) and “Noordzeekanaalgebied” (Amsterdam-IJmuiden).

Table 2.2 shows which main sectors (chemical, refineries, metal and food) are represented in the different clusters (five geographical clusters plus the “Zesdecluster” for the rest of the country), which portrays the regional scattering of these industries. The chemical industry is represented in all six regional industry clusters, but in terms of size it is mostly concentrated in Rotterdam-Moerdijk, Chemelot and the Smart Delta Resources. Refineries are concentrated in Rotterdam-Moerdijk, with the exception of Zeeland refinery, which is located in the Smart Delta Resources. A vast majority of steel is produced by Tata Steel in IJmuiden, which is part of the Noordzeekanaalgebied cluster plan. Food processing is more spread over the geographical clusters taking place in the Smart Delta Resources, Noordzeekanaalgebied, Noord Nederland and in the sixth cluster (Zesdecluster).

The six clusters have recently released plans for decarbonisation at the 2050 horizon, aiming for net-zero emissions in 2050. These plans are described in Box 2.2 and are consistent with the scenario presented in the following sections. Important to point out is the substantial heterogeneity in the size of the clusters, with Rotterdam-Moerwijk, alone, being responsible for 70% of the targeted emission reductions for the industrial sector for 2030. Another relevant observation is that there is substantial overlap between the different cluster plans in reported opportunities, roadmaps and conditions.


← 1. In the rest of this report, the industry corresponds to the manufacturing sectors (NACE Rev. 2 10-33).

← 2. Source: Eurostat, energy supply and use by NACE Rev. 2 activity.

← 3. Among which Tata Steel, Shell, BP, Zeeland Refinery, Chemelot Site Permit, Esso, Dow, Yara Sluiskil, Air Liquide, ExxonMobil.

← 4. Source: Climate Agreement.

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