The Netherlands has set new nitrogen reduction targets for its transport, industry and energy sectors in a bid to safeguard biodiversity and accelerate the country’s climate transition.

The industry and energy sectors must emit 38% less nitrogen by 2030 compared to 2019 and the mobility sector, which includes traffic and aviation, must commit to a 25% reduction target, the Dutch cabinet announced February 10.  

The government said it will discuss the targets with 3,000 top nitrogen emitters, including companies and farms. “These businesses will have the opportunity to significantly reduce nitrogen emissions by making their operations more sustainable, relocating or shutting down,” it said in a statement.

In 2022, the Dutch cabinet said it aims to halve all nitrogen emissions by 2030, a target designed to comply with European Union rules. The realization of this goal requires a “substantial” reduction of 41% in ammonia emissions by the agricultural sector, the government said.

The Netherlands’s initial focus was on farms, which represent the biggest chuck of emissions. This sparked months-long protests from farmers who argued that their sector was being unfairly targeted and warned the measures will force them out of business.

Now industrial manufacturing and the transport sector have come into play as well and will be asked for a significant overhaul of production processes to reach the targets.

Tata Steel Ltd.’s Ijmuiden unit is the top nitrogen emitter in the country, according to a list shared in 2022 by the cabinet, followed by Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. Oil refineries of both Shell Plc and BP Plc also top the list.

The precise impact on these companies remains unclear at present.

Severe measures are needed to safeguard nature, Dutch Minister for Nature and Nitrogen Policy Christianne van der Wal-Zeggelink told Bloomberg in December. “Dutch nature is in a really bad state,” she said.