Dutch PM delayed climate deal report to avoid debate; MPs want answers

Prime Minister Mark Rutte delayed the publication of the planning offices' climate agreement calculations until after Budget Day, because he thought a debate about the climate would be "undesirable" at this point, Nieuwsuur reports based on documents it received by appealing to the Government Information Act. Opposition parties in parliament are outraged and want a quick explanation from Rutte about the pressure he exerted on the planning offices to delay this publication, NOS reports.

The Netherlands' environmental assessment agency PBL and central planning office CPB wanted to publish their calculations of the climate agreement on September 13th last year - a week before Budget Day and the budget debate in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament. The two agencies concluded in their calculations that the Netherlands will not achieve its climate goals with the plans stated in the agreement. The calculations were eventually published in March this year. 

Rutte was not in favor of publishing the calculations before Budget Day, according to the documents Nieuwsuur requested. "The calculation (and with that the appreciation) then becomes a topic of discussion at the APB [the parliamentary debates on the national budget] and that is undesirable", can be read in the minutes of the Prime Minister's employees. 

GroenLinks, PVV, PvdA and FvD accuse the Prime Minister of withholding information. "This is just about the worst thing you can do in a parliamentary democracy", FvD leader Thierry Baudet said, speaking of a "deadly sin".

GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver said he didn't expect this from Rutte. "This is bizarre. It is not up to him to determine when the Tweede Kamer receives important information. This arrogance is shocking", Klaver said, according to NOS. "It is a major error in judgment, a political error."

PVV leader Geert Wilders spoke of "shameful cheaters" who deliberately postpone unwelcome "negative figures". PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher said that it is "serious" that the Prime Minister both withheld information, and suggested that the information was not yet available.

According to Rutte himself, the government did not withhold information. "It was the logical course of events", he said to NOS from Brussels on Tuesday. Sometimes a government response is added to a report and the cabinet needs time for that. Rutte said it would have been "very unwise" if the report was published without a government response. "Then we would have had an impossible debate with a lot of questions from the Kamer which the cabinet could not yet answer." According to the Prime Minister, such a debate would only have led to irritation and that has now been prevented.

On Wednesday the opposition parties will request a debate on this matter. 

On Tuesday the Eerste Kamer, the Dutch Senate, voted in the climate law, ANP reports. That there was a majority for this law is no surprise as eight parties already supported it - initiators GroenLinks and PvdA, opposition parties SP, 50Plus and coalition parties VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie. 

The law is described as a "framework law" as it sets no specific measures, those measures come from the above mentioned climate agreement. It does, however, set the Netherlands' climate goals down in law. By 2030 the greenhouse gas emissions, CO2 in particular, must be reduced by 49 percent compared to 1990. And by 2050 emissions must be down 95 percent. All the energy used in the Netherlands must be from renewable sources by 2050, and more energy must be saved.