Report says Dutch government spends billions on subsidies for fossil fuel producers and users

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch government spends some 37.5 billion euros ($40.5 billion) per year in subsidies to industries that use fossil fuels, according to a new report published Monday by a platform that investigates multinationals and by two groups lobbying for a transition to renewable energy.

The report lists 31 government subsidies, mainly tax breaks, that make it cheaper for companies to produce and use fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas.

The sector with the biggest chunk of the government's support is the Dutch shipping industry, which benefits to the tune of 6.7 billion euros, according to the report. Electricity generated using fossil fuel gets 5.3 billion euros in tax breaks and other benefits, it adds.

The report was published by the The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, known as SOMO, the Dutch arm of Friends of the Earth and Oil Change International.

It calls on lawmakers to begin phasing out the subsidies even before the country's Nov. 22 general election.

“Fossil subsidies cost billions in taxpayer money, exacerbate the climate crisis, and line the coffers of big polluters," said Donald Pols, Director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands, adding that the money could be better spent in insulating homes and funding energy transition to sustainable sources.

"We want the House of Representatives to start phasing out fossil subsidies now. The climate cannot wait for a new coalition.”

Minister for Climate and Energy Rob Jetten acknowledged that the country has to end the subsidies, but offered no timeline in a statement Monday.

“The government already has halted a number of measures and it is important to clearly and unequivocally map out exactly which further financial incentives are involved,” he said.

Jetten said the ruling coalition, which is governing in caretaker mode until a new coalition is formed after the election, “is working on a complete overview of schemes that lead to financial benefits for fossil energy use and is making an estimate of the total size.” He said details will be published in the annual budget later this month.

The report was published days before the environmental group Extinction Rebellion plans the latest in a series of protests in which activists block a busy road along the Dutch parliament building.


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