Nitrogen policy is subject to great uncertainty
In the end, the government’s natural targets are not about nitrogen emissions, but rather about where that nitrogen ends up in nature. This is called sedimentation. In 2030, the government wants to lower the so-called critical precipitation value (KDW) to 74 percent of the Natura 2000 protected areas. CDW is the maximum amount of nitrogen that nature can handle in an area without being degraded.
But the PBL researchers caution that the government’s emission target will not meet the sedimentation target with certainty. In the calculations, the ministry assumes that an emissions reduction of 41 percent will be achieved evenly across the country. “Maybe it’s different in practice. Then the question is whether you will succeed,” says researcher Martin Fink.
There are still big doubts in the planning office’s calculations. This concerns, for example, new technologies to reduce nitrogen emission from stables. In the past, such technology has been shown to be less effective in practice than previously thought.
“We know that these systems can work in principle,” says Emma van der Zanden, a researcher at PBL. “But we also know that there is variance among all practical situations.” In the calculations, PBL assumes that some stables will emit less nitrogen in 2030.