Despite climate agreements, the Netherlands supports the fossil sector with 7.6 billion euros a year
Although outgoing economics minister Henk Kamp stated in May of this year that fossil fuels are not subsidised in the Netherlands, a report out today shows that this is clearly not the case. The report. ‘Phase-Out 2020: Monitoring Europe’s fossil fuel subsidies’, by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Climate Action Network Europe (CAN-Europe), says that the Netherlands is supporting the fossil sector at home and abroad with more than 7.6 billion euros a year (1). The Netherlands made international agreements as long ago as 2009 (2) to ban subsidies for fossil fuels. Environment NGO Milieudefensie and Both ENDS – both members of CAN-Europe – call attention to these findings because they find it unacceptable that the government perpetuates our dependence on fossil fuels in this way.
The report provides an overview of the substantial sums of money that eleven EU member states and the EU institutions continue to invest in the production and consumption of fossil fuels. In total, these investments come to 112 billon euros a year. The report concludes that most countries, including the Netherlands, have no concrete plans to phase out their fossil fuel subsidies.
“The government already has its work cut out to achieve the Paris goals,’ says Milieudefensie director Donald Pols. ‘So we shouldn’t be pumping money into the fossil sector. We can better invest the money in sustainable energy supplies – an area in which we are lagging seriously behind. Then we can also stop extracting gas in Groningen more quickly.”
The biggest fossil fuel subsidy in the Netherlands is the energy tax exemption for air transport and shipping, sectors that are way behind in terms of sustainability. The exemption poses a serious threat to achievement of the Paris goals, and costs the Netherlands 3.5 billion euros in lost tax revenues every year. The government also supports the oil and gas production industry in the Netherlands to the tune of 144 million euros a year. Investments by companies in the fossil sector that are largely in the hands of the state amount to 946 million euros a year.
The total amount with which the Netherlands supports the fossil industry every year is most probably much higher than the 7.6 billion euros calculated in the report. For almost half of the support measures the researchers identified, they could not determine exact amounts due to lack of transparency. Milieudefensie and Both ENDS find that unacceptable, as without transparency, it is almost impossible to determine whether the Netherlands is complying with its international agreements.
The Netherlands also supports the fossil fuel sector abroad with more than two billion euros a year. “It does this mainly in the form of export support,’ says Niels Hazekamp, policy advisor at Both ENDS. “The Dutch economy is strongly focused on exports and the government supports companies that are active abroad with, for example, export credit insurance to reduce their financial risks. By far the greatest share of export credit insurance goes to oil- and gas-related projects, while the Netherlands should really be supporting sustainable and innovative projects.”
For more information:
The full report Phase-Out 2020: Monitoring Europe’s fossil fuel subsidies
The executive summary of Phase-Out 2020: Monitoring Europe’s fossil fuel subsidies
Milieudefensie press information:
020-5507333 of firstname.lastname@example.org
Niels Hazekamp 020-5306639 of email@example.com
Masja Helmer 020-5306637 of firstname.lastname@example.org
(1) This consists of 4.4 billion euros in direct subsidies and fiscal arrangements, 2.2 billion in international public financing for oil and gas (by public financial bodies) and 946 million in investments by state companies in oil and gas.
(2) The European Union has committed itself to ending environmentally harmful subsidies by 2020. In addition, through the G20 and the G7, European governments have made international agreements to ban fossil fuels.
Photo: Oil transport on Student Energy
For more information
Read more about this subject
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.'
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.
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
Publication / 18 June 2017
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.
Press release / 14 May 2017
The Dutch pension fund, ABP, invested about two billion euros more in the fossil energy industry at the end of 2016 than the year before. This is announced by the report "Dirty & Dangerous: the fossil fuel investments of Dutch pension fund ABP," published today by Both ENDS, German urgewald and Fossielvrij NL. The report criticizes these investments because of the impact on the climate and the catastrophic consequences for the people in the areas where coal, oil and gas are being produced.
Publication / 11 November 2020
News / 15 April 2021
On Wednesday, April 14, seven countries, including the Netherlands, launched an initiative called Export Finance for Future (E3F), in which they set a number of ambitions with regard to phasing out export support for the fossil sector. Many NGOs worldwide, including Both ENDS in the Netherlands, have been calling for such an initiative in recent years and we are therefore pleased with this step. However, to achieve results and contribute to the Paris climate goals, countries will have to commit to much more ambitious goals than those now set. Concerned civil society organizations, including Both ENDS, therefore prepared a statement detailing the weaknesses they felt in the policy proposed by E3F, supplemented with recommendations for improvements.
Press release / 12 February 2019
Amsterdam, 12 February 2019 - Fossil fuel giant Royal Dutch Shell is facing legal action from environmental and human rights organisations if it fails to align its growth plans with global climate goals aimed at averting catastrophic global warming.
News / 8 November 2018
Every 10 years, the mandate and activities of 'Export Development Canada' (EDC), the Canadian export credit agency, are reviewed. Since the last review took place in 2008, another review is currently underway. Both ENDS and a couple of other CSOs working from a number of countries made a joint submission as formal input to the legislative review. We did this especially in light of the Canadian governments' ambition to show leadership on climate change and to prioritise climate change action and clean economic growth.
News / 1 April 2021
Both ENDS is shocked by the dramatic news in the past days coming from Palma, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. Our thoughts go to those who lost their lives or who are still missing, and their loved ones. Both ENDS is in close contact with our local partners to support them wherever we can. Many people are still missing, among whom members of farmers union UPC.
Press release / 19 May 2021
Amsterdam, 19 May 2021 – On 25 March, a day after violent attacks in northern Mozambique, the Dutch state decided to provide dredging company Van Oord with export credit insurance worth 900 million euros for its activities in the country. The company is conducting dredging operations for a highly controversial gas project that, according to Mozambican interest groups, is playing a prominent role in the escalating violence in the region. Civil society organisations Both ENDS, Milieudefensie and Oil Change International and their Mozambican partners are alarmed about the situation and have called the Dutch government and Dutch export credit agency Atradius DSB to account.
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.
Blog / 17 February 2018
On 7 February, Dutch newspaper Trouw published an article on abolishing subsidies for fossil fuels. The article claimed that the measure would only generate a limited climate benefit. Yet the study on which the article is based shows the opposite. Niels Hazekamp (Both ENDS) and Laurie van der Burg (Overseas Development Institute, ODI) wrote a short opinion article on the issue.
Publication / 25 December 2015
Both ENDS is co-plaintiff in the climate lawsuit being brought by Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth The Netherlands) against Shell to stop the company from causing harm to the climate. Shell has known about the severity of the climate problem for many years but continues with the climate-polluting extraction of oil and gas. By doing so, it undermines efforts to achieve the climate goals. Companies have a responsibility not to cause serious harm to society and the climate. Because Shell refuses to take that responsibility itself, we are taking the company to court. In brief, we demand that Shell has zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and adapts its activities to be fully aligned with the climate goals in the Paris Agreement.
News / 27 November 2020
Next week, the climate case brought against Royal Dutch Shell by Dutch environmental organisation Milieudefensie is due to start. Milieudefensie hopes to force the company to stop causing dangerous climate change and adopt a more sustainable course. Six Dutch organisations have decided to become co-plaintiffs in the case. They include ActionAid and Both ENDS, organisations that work outside the Netherlands on human rights, gender equality, environment and sustainable development. Though, at first glance, the case may not seem relevant to them, nothing is farther from the truth, as Nils Mollema of ActionAid and Niels Hazekamp of Both ENDS explain.
Elections are soon to be held in the Netherlands. The political parties are sharpening their knives and have outlined their plans in hefty manifestos. Not surprisingly, they mainly focus on domestic issues. International themes are primarily addressed in terms of opportunities for Dutch companies and threats in areas like health, privacy and competition that we need to protect ourselves against. But if we want to make the Netherlands sustainable, we especially need to look at our footprint beyond our own borders and make every effort to reduce it. In the weeks leading up to the elections, Both ENDS looks at where the parties' manifestos offer opportunities to achieve that.
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.