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Climate Lobbying Overview: VNO-NCW appears to have mixed engagement with climate lobbying. While its top-line messaging surrounding EU climate targets often appears to be supportive, its engagements with policy-makers on specific regulatory matters tend to be less supportive, such as a Dutch carbon tax and the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) reform.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: VNO-NCW’s top-line messaging on climate policy appears to be broadly positive. The association stated support for a climate neutral economy by 2050 ‘at the latest’ in Europe in a 2020 press release and also stating it ‘fully endorses’ the Paris Agreement. In its Agenda NL 2030 report, VNO-NCW urges the business community to do more to implement the Dutch Climate Agreement and in 2021, VNO-NCW CEO Ingrid Thijssen echoed this and stated that “the pace of CO2 reduction must increase”, however added that regulations should come at an EU or global level to avoid affecting national competitiveness.

Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: While VNO-NCW has voiced its support for the EU’s target of 55% emission reduction by 2030, its engagement with specific EU level policies appears to be less positive.

In a 2018 letter to Eric Wiebes, the Dutch Economic Affairs and Climate minister, on the Dutch climate agreement, VNO-NCW appeared to suggest that the national 2030 target should not be a barrier to growth and investment and that emission reductions outside the Netherlands as a consequence of Dutch investments should contribute to the 'national' 2030 target. In the same letter, it goes on to state that 'generic national CO2 taxes are ineffective' suggesting it would lead to carbon leakage, and instead suggested ensuring a “robust effective (EU) ETS charge.” In the same year, VNO-NCW wrote a separate letter to Minister Wiebes and Hoekstra, in which it appeared to oppose a national CO2 price floor for electricity generation, stating the policy would make ‘the Netherlands poorer and the world warmer’, but indicated it would support such a policy if implemented at an EU level. This position was reaffirmed in a 2019 letter to the lower house, that stated ‘CO2 pricing for industry on top of the ETS system is only an effective means if this is done at European level’ and that any carbon tax at a national level will lead to ‘climate unemployment’.

Despite repeatedly supporting the EU ETS over a national carbon tax, VNO-NCW appears to have a mixed engagement with policymakers on the legislation. In 2021, the association responded to an EU public consultation on the EU ETS update, where it appeared to not support any of the proposed reforms to increase the carbon price and effectiveness of the scheme, including opposing a reduced number of free allowances. The association also appeared to not support the expansion of the EU ETS to other sectors such as transport, not supporting rebasing and not supporting the Cross-Sectoral Correction Factor to be applied to the ETS.

Positioning on Energy Transition: VNO-NCW appear to have mixed positions on the energy transition. A joint letter to the Vice Chancellor for finance, signed by VNO-NCW CEO Ingrid Thijssen, appeared to stress the importance of natural 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. However, in a 2021 press release Thijssen stated support for the energy transition, stating “it must happen in the next decade.” In 2021, its corporate website appeared to support an expanded role for green hydrogen to achieve the energy transition.