July 14, 2020

Laurie van der Burg, laurie [at]
Freek Bersch, freek.bersch [at]

Report: Past time For action — Subsidies and Public Finance for Fossil Fuels in The Netherlands
The Netherlands fails to meet 2020 deadline for ending fossil fuel subsidies

To view or download the full report:

Amsterdam, 14 July 2020 — Amidst a climate crisis and global pandemic, a new analysis from Friends of the Earth Netherlands and Oil Change International reveals that the Dutch government continues to provide billions — at least €8.3 billion per year — in taxpayer backed support for the production and use of fossil fuels. By ending fossil fuel subsidies, the Netherlands could free up resources to invest in a just and green recovery from COVID-19, whilst reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 7.7% by 2025.

In 2013, the Netherlands agreed to end environmentally harmful subsidies by 2020, and under the Paris Agreement, it later agreed to make “finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.” Yet, until recently, the Dutch government claimed that no fossil fuel subsidies exist in the country, stating that “the Netherlands has no grants or subsidies for fossil fuels” in a 2018 report submitted to the European Commission.

Today’s report, Past time for action: Subsidies and Public Finance for Fossil Fuels in the Netherlands, shows otherwise. Based on internationally agreed subsidy definitions, it finds that the Dutch government provides fossil fuel subsidies worth at least €4.9 billion per year, with the largest single subsidy being energy tax exemptions for fuels used in aviation and shipping. In addition, the Dutch government provides €2.9 billion per year in public finance for infrastructure supporting the production and use of fossil fuels abroad, and its state-owned enterprises invest €513 million per year in fossil fuel production. 

“As the Dutch government prepares to spend billions on recovery from the impacts of COVID-19, it faces an important choice,” says Laurie van der Burg, Senior Campaigner at Oil Change International. “It can choose to support business as usual, which is incompatible with protecting public health and limiting global warming to 1.5°C, or it can use this money to accelerate the energy transition, by investing in a clean and green future, whilst supporting workers in fossil fuel-dependent industries through the transition.”

In April of this year, the Dutch minister of Economic Affairs and Climate, Eric Wiebes, co-signed a letter calling on the European Commission to opt for a green EU recovery. But to the contrary, domestically he plans to extend tax benefits for gas production in the North Sea, has approved a 3.4 billion bailout package for Dutch airline KLM without clear green conditions while also weakening the carbon tax that will be introduced in 2021. Now, compelled by the Dutch parliament, his Ministry has, for the very first time, embarked on an effort to map the countries’ fossil fuel subsidies. This presents an important opportunity to turn longstanding commitments to end public support to fossil fuels into concrete action.

“When the government presents its budget in September, it should present a clear pathway for ending subsidies and public finance for fossil fuels, including through its international funding mechanisms, as soon as possible. The Netherlands has already failed to meet the EU 2020 deadline for ending environmentally harmful subsidies. It is past time for action,” says Donald Pols, director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands.


Oil Change International is a research, communication, and advocacy organization focused on exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the coming transition towards clean energy.