Dutch industry worried by environment plan

More green taxation, measures to cut greenhouse gases, expected in NEPP3

Dutch industry is concerned that the forthcoming national environment plan, NEPP3, will impose new burdens on it, a senior industry figure told ENDS Daily today.

Due to be published in February, the NEPP3, or third national environmental policy plan, will propose new taxes and measures to implement the Kyoto climate agreement which could hit industry, said Wiel Klerken, head of the environment unit of the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers.

The four-year plan will reveal further details of government intentions to green the tax system (ENDS Daily 18 June 1997). Mr Klerken expects it to include the doubling of a tax on energy consumption for small users, which include householders and small businesses. Of even greater concern to industry, the tax might be extended to larger industrial energy users.

Energy policy is likely to feature prominently in the NEPP3. Dutch industry is worried about how the government will advance its climate change policy following the Kyoto climate summit, according to Mr Klerken.

The Netherlands will likely have to cut greenhouse gas emissions by between 5 and 10% under an EU burden-sharing deal (ENDS Daily 7 January), Mr Klerken predicted. This would mean nearly halving national carbon dioxide emissions by 2008-2012 because of the country's robust economic growth.

Business would undoubtedly be asked to make a significant contribution. Though Dutch industry has pledged to become the most energy efficient in the world, the target might still be impossible to reach, Mr Klerken said. He predicted that the Netherlands would have to use "flexibility" mechanisms in the Kyoto protocol, such as emissions trading and private sector investment overseas, to meet its national commitments.

Despite worries over taxation and climate policy, industry expects the NEPP3 to endorse the Netherlands' unique approach of using covenants, or negotiated agreements, in preference to legislation to achieve almost all environmental policy goals.

"Industry has done very well in the past years through voluntary agreements," Mr Klerken said. "Our performance in the environmental field has been very good and that is acknowledged by the government."

The confederation expects the NEPP3 will also show that the Netherlands will fail to meet a national target to cut emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 2000. Mr Klerken predicted that the deadline for achieving cuts would be extended by five years.

Follow Up:
Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers, tel: +31 70 349 0349.

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