Dutch Employers' Federation (VNO-NCW)

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Climate Lobbying Overview: The Dutch Employers' Federation (VNO-NCW) appears to have mixed engagement with climate lobbying, although becoming increasingly supportive in recent years. While it broadly supports EU and Dutch climate ambition, its engagement with policymakers on specific regulations,such as a Dutch carbon tax and the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) reform, tend to be less supportive.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: VNO-NCW’s top-line messaging on climate policy appears to be broadly positive. The association supported a climate neutral economy by 2050 “at the latest” in Europe in a March 2020 press release, also stating it “‘fully endorses” the Paris Agreement. In February 2021, VNO-NCW President Ingrid Thijssen stated that “the pace of CO2 reduction must increase”, however she added that regulations should come at an EU or global level to avoid affecting national competitiveness. In a July 2021 press release, the association stated support for the EU Fit for 55 package. In November 2021, the President signed a declaration advocating for a “smart and stable” regulatory framework which supports industrial competitiveness.

Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: VNO-NCW seems to support specific regulations, albeit with major exceptions. In February 2022 in an opinion piece in the news outlet Het Financieele Dagblad , the President stated support for the Netherlands’ 2030 GHG target of 55% emissions reductions by 2030, however engagement on other policies has been less supportive.

VNO-NCW appeared to support the continuation of carbon leakage protection measures in the EU ETS, such as the free allocation of emissions allowances, alongside the implementation of a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism in the EU until 2030, a position which is misaligned with the EU Commission, in response to an EU public consultation in February 2021. The association has also has consistently advocated against a national carbon tax in the Netherlands between 2018 and 2021. For example, on its corporate website, accessed in May 2021, it stated that a CO2 tax would risk investment and endanger jobs in the Netherlands. Despite repeatedly supporting the EU ETS over a national carbon tax, VNO-NCW appears to have mixed engagement with policymakers on the legislation. In February 2021 in response to an EU public consultation, the association did not support many proposed reforms to increase the carbon price and effectiveness of the EU ETS, including opposing a reduced number of free emissions allowances and not supporting strengthening mechanisms such as the Market Stability Reserve. However, in a July 2021 press release, the association seemed to support a higher carbon price in the EU ETS.

In a February 2021 press release, VNO-NCW did not support energy efficiency standards within the EU Energy Efficiency Directive, advocating that it should focus on energy intensity instead of placing a “ceiling” on energy consumption, suggesting that low-carbon energies can lead to increased energy use. In the same press release, the association advocated that the EU Renewable Energy Directive should be opened up to include non-renewable energies such as low-carbon technologies. However, in February 2022 the President advocated to speed up permitting processing times to increase solar and wind energy production.

Positioning on Energy Transition: VNO-NCW appear to mostly support the energy transition. In a February 2021 report, the association appeared to support an expanded role for green hydrogen to achieve the energy transition, and in a May 2021 press release it supported the decarbonization of transportation. Furthermore, in response to an EU public consultation in January 2021 VNO-NCW strongly supported the reform of the Energy Taxation Directive to promote the increased use of green hydrogen to decarbonize transport and industry. However, a joint letter to the Vice Chancellor for finance in November 2020, signed by VNO-NCW President, appeared to stress the importance of fossil gas development in developing nations, without placing a date on its phase out or conditions surrounding the use of CCS, while advocating for a Europe-wide transition period to be introduced to ensure the availability of export credit insurance for fossil fuel projects. Furthermore, the President did not seem to support the Netherlands’ decision to stop issuing credit to companies that invest abroad in oil, gas and coal in November 2021.

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