Emissions rise makes targets tougher

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A 2% increase in CO2 emissions in 1997 has made it more difficult for the Netherlands to meet its international commitments on greenhouse gas reduction, concludes an annual report by the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). At the present rate of growth the government's environmental targets for the year 2000 will not be reached until 2010, according to RIVM. The emission increase was slightly higher than the average over recent years. RIVM predicts that despite the commitment to cut CO2 emissions 3% on 1990 levels by 2000, the rate will continue to rise. RIVM's fourth "environmental balance sheet" lays the blame on several years of high economic growth. Domestic electricity consumption rose 3% in 1997, while automobile use increased 4%. Since 1985, domestic energy use has increased by a quarter and could rise another 15%, the institute warns. At the same time cuts in pollution emissions have been too slow to offer any hope of meeting the targets -- even with new policies announced in the country's third national environmental plan earlier this year. RIVM does note the link between economic growth and increases in pollution is weaker due to existing environmental policies. Environment minister Jan Pronk has seized on this finding as evidence that government policies are starting to work.

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