Fossil fuel benefits boost industry by up to €46 billion

There is no tax on plane fuel. Photo: Dutch News

Industry that uses oil, gas and coal benefits by up to €46.4 billion a year from lower taxes, government investment and other indirect subsidies, according to leaked figures from the economic affairs ministry.

The information is included in documents that should have been published on Tuesday at the government’s budget presentation, but has been widely quoted in the Dutch media.

Environmental organisations earlier put what they call “fossil subsidies” at €37.5 billion, of €6.7 billion goes to shipping, €2.4 billion to aviation and €5.4 billion for the generation of non-sustainable electricity.  

The ongoing Extinction Rebellion protests in The Hague are aimed at stopping this indirect subsidy and, the organisers say, will continue until the government acts.  

The government figures, drawn up by climate minister Rob Jetten’s department, say steel makers, inland shipping, horticulture, oil refineries and coal-fired power stations all benefit from lower taxes, and that the benefits increase the more fossil fuels they use. 

A majority of MPs say the subsidies should be phased out, but there is no agreement about the time frame. Jetten also wants the government’s macro-economic forecasting agency CPB and the environmental planning agency PBL to look into the overall effect. 

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – fossil subsidies have to phased out,” he said on social media. “That is the way to say farewell to the old economy and create space for new jobs and prosperity.” 

The leaked document does not contain a plan of action but does mention several small steps that could be taken, such as a cut in tax advantages enjoyed by greenhouse growers and cuts in the road tax breaks given to classic cars. 

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