Paris Proof Export Support
Almost two-thirds of the export credit insurances that Atradius DSB provided in the 2012-2018 period went to the fossil energy sector. That is contrary to the climate agreements that the Netherlands signed in Paris.
In December 2015, the Netherlands signed the Paris Climate Agreement, under which global warming has to be limited to a maximum of 2 (preferably 1.5) degrees Celsius. A growing number of companies are making their production methods more sustainable and are switching to renewable energy, to minimise or even halt the negative impact of their activities on the climate. But Dutch companies do not only operate in the Netherlands. On the contrary, many of our economic activities take place abroad, and the negative effects of these activities are therefore mostly felt there. To achieve the transition to a sustainable economy, it is therefore vital that we also devote attention to making Dutch activities abroad more sustainable.
The Dutch government promotes the export of goods and services in many ways, for example with grants and tax arrangements. For very large-scale and high-risk activities abroad, it provides export credit insurance (see dossier on ECAs). Both ENDS believes that this public support for foreign trade should contribute to sustainable development for all, and not just benefit Dutch companies. This means that, to be eligible for export support, Dutch activities abroad should not be harmful to people and their environment in the countries where they take place. Furthermore, they should always be in line with the climate goals set in Paris in 2015.
Two-thirds to the fossil fuel sector
This is by no means always the case. Both ENDS analysed all of the Dutch export credit agency Atradius DSB's transactions during the 2012-2018 period, which showed that the company provided insurance to projects related to the fossil fuel sector worth a total of €10.8 billion. That is two thirds of the total value of insurance provided by Atradius DSB during that period.
Almost 98% of all insurances provided by Atradius DSB in support of energy projects, are related to fossil fuels. Of this support, the larger part (80%) goes to the offshore and maritime sector. For instance to shipyards that build pipe-laying vessels and floating drilling rigs, known as Floating Production, Storage and Offloading ships (FPSOs). Or to dredging companies that dig port channels for the transshipment of fossil fuels (see dossier on Suape) or raise coastlines so oil refineries can be built on them. In this way, the export credit insurances provided to Dutch exporters of such projects greatly contribute to the expansion of the infrastructure of the global oil and gas sectors.
Public funds to support the fossil fuel sector
The Ministry of Finance holds primary responsibility for the policy of Atradius DSB and parliament has an important role as supervisor. So far, there has been no political discussion about the extent to which Atradius DSB supports the fossil fuel sector and how this can be aligned with the agreed climate goals. The Dutch government appears to see no problem in using public funds to support the fossil fuel sector.
Sustainable trade and investment policies
If the Netherlands wants a green and inclusive economy, the government should ask itself how export credit insurances for the fossil fuel sector can be stoped and used to support green, sustainable transactions. The Netherlands should focus much more on energy efficiency, energy saving, sustainable mobility, and solar and wind energy. The aim to achieve a climate-neutral economy must therefore be reflected in our trade and investment policies. Both ENDS realises that phasing out export credit insurance that supports the fossil fuel sector will be a gradual process. But we can no longer postpone the discussion on how that process should be conducted.
Sustainable Export Support
The Dutch government indicates that it will end all financial support to coal projects and exploration and development of new oil and gas fields abroad from its foreign trade and development cooperation instruments as of 2020. Unfortunately, this commitment is not applied to the export credit facility, which supports the by far largest volume of fossil fuel related business transactions abroad.
Both ENDS calls on the Dutch government and parliament to ensure that the export credit insurance provided by Atradius DSB is in line with the climate goals of the Paris Agreement. The report 'Paris Proof Export Support' contains a number of recommendations to achieve that. These recommendations are summarised below:
1. Include the export credit facility in its foreign climate targets and set the target for ADSB to provide no new fossil fuel support by 2020.
2. Advocate for the same target at the OECD, and urge for an immediate
stop of all ECA support for coalrelated projects.
3. In 2020, set up a Coalition of the Willing: a dialogue between countries willing to decarbonise their ECAs together in line with the Paris Agreement.
4. Take initiatives to ensure EU policies for ECAs take into account commitments of the EU to contribute to combating climate change.
Read more about this subject
In 2011 one of the world’s largest gas reserves was found in the coastal province of Cabo Delgado, in the north of Mozambique. A total of 35 billion dollars has been invested to extract the gas. Dozens of multinationals and financiers are involved in these rapid developments. It is very difficult for the people living in Cabo Delgado to exert influence on the plans and activities, while they experience the negative consequences. With the arrival of these companies, they are losing their land.
Both ENDS calls on the government only to provide export credit insurance to sustainable projects that cause no social and/or environmental damage in the countries where they take place.
Two projects insured by Atradius DSB in the Brazilian port of Suape have caused serious social problems and environmental damage. Both ENDS is helping the local people to obtain justice.
News / 12 July 2021
At the beginning of this year, the Dutch government provided Dutch companies with export insurance worth 903 million euros to enable them to participate in a gigantic natural gas project in the north of Mozambique. Together with partners from Mozambique and the Netherlands, Both ENDS has been conducting a dialogue with export credit agency Atradius DSB and the responsible Ministries of Finance and Foreign Affairs on the possible financial, environmental and social risks of the gas project.
News / 4 May 2021
Today, two independent experts brought out a legal opinion on the obligations of countries and their export credit agencies under international law in relation to export support for fossil fuels. According to the report, emissions by fossil fuels and the related infrastructure need to be reduced urgently.
Press release / 11 November 2020
Since the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement, rich countries have provided almost 50 times as much export support for fossil fuel related projects as for clean energy projects in four African countries. This is the conclusion of a report written by five environmental organisations from Ghana, Nigeria, Togo and Uganda, in cooperation with Friends of the Earth Netherlands and Both ENDS. The rich countries insured energy projects with a total value of 11 billion US dollars through their export credit agencies (ECAs). More than half of this export support is related to fossil fuels. Only 1% went to sustainable renewable energy.
Publication / 11 November 2020
News / 30 June 2020
Almost 40 civil society organisations and networks from around the world, including Both ENDS, today sent a letter to Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag and State Secretary for Finance Hans Vijlbrief. They are asking the ministers to ensure that the expansion of export credit insurance as a result of the Corona crisis contributes to a green recovery.
Press release / 18 November 2019
The Netherlands provides export credit insurances and guarantees worth 1.5 billion euros annually to Dutch companies active in the oil and gas sector abroad. This support amounts to one and a half times the annual amount that the Cabinet of Prime Minister Rutte mobilises for climate initiatives worldwide. The intended effects of Dutch international climate policy are more than offset by this fossil export support. That is the conclusion of a new report from Both ENDS which is published today.
Publication / 17 November 2019
Blog / 19 September 2019
Reward high-risk international business projects investing in a green future and stop support for the international fossil industry
The climate is 'hot'. Everyone is talking about it. 'Everyone needs to do something' calls the government in its recently started public campaign. Good plan. Let's really do something. For a start, we can stop supporting international trade in fossil energy by our own multinationals. That would free up 1.5 billion euros which we could use to combat climate change on an international scale and at the same time give our own innovative businesses a boost. Today's Vergeten Klimaattafel (Forgotten Climate Roundtable) will discuss the opportunities for the Netherlands to have a real impact. And those opportunities are enormous. Because our big money and our influence lie beyond our borders.
External link / 29 May 2019
Export credit agencies (ECAs) play a central role within the complicated web of global development finance. In 2018, Both ENDS invested in strengthening cooperation among organisations working on ECAs, building a strategic global collaboration to stop ECAs' support of fossil fuels and improve their environment and human rights record.
Press release / 26 March 2019
Wealthy Dutch investors to disinvest personal capital worth 200 million euros from the fossil industry
Joint press release from Both ENDS and Fossielvrij NL - 26 March 2019
A group of 22 wealthy Dutch investors have decided to disinvest all their personal capital, worth a total of 200 million euros, from the top 200 oil, gas and coal companies. The investors have pledged to disinvest all their capital from the fossil industry within three to five years. By doing so, they are giving a clear signal that they do not want their capital to contribute to disastrous climate change.
External link / 31 May 2018
In 2017 Both ENDS stepped up its efforts to stop the Dutch government from supporting the fossil fuel industry. Phasing out fossil fuels is key to achieving the goals set in the Paris Climate Agreement. To Both ENDS, there is another reason: fossil fuel-related projects often have disastrous effects for the poorest people in the Global South.
News / 11 December 2017
Yesterday, the French President Macron, the President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, met with international leaders and committed citizens from around the world in Paris. According to the organisers, the aim of this gathering was to 'address the ecological emergency for our planet' as 'two years to the day after the historic Paris Agreement, it is time for concrete action.'
News / 28 August 2017
Last June, Both ENDS published a report which showed clearly that, through export credit insurance provider Atradius Dutch State Business (ADSB), the Netherlands is supporting the fossil fuel sector on a large scale. Between 2012 and 2015, ADSB provided billions of euros in insurance and guarantees, on behalf of the State of the Netherlands, to fossil-related export projects. This support is completely out of line with the Paris Climate Agreement. On 20 June, members of parliament Lammert van Raan (PvdD) and Sandra Beckerman (SP) submitted questions to the State Secretaries for Finance and for Infrastructure and the Environment.
Publication / 18 June 2017
News / 30 November 2016
Atradius Dutch State Business (Atradius DSB) remains responsible for observing social, environmental and human rights, also after providing export credit insurance. That is the conclusion of the Dutch National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines in its final statement, which was published today. Both ENDS issued a press release about this.