Energy minister’s climate plan would push petrol prices higher, dividing Cabinet parties
The measures that Climate Minister Rob Jetten (D66) is considering to make automotive traffic more sustainable more quickly have little chance of garnering support from the other coalition parties, sources close to the Cabinet said. They were asked about a similar report from broadcaster NOS when they indicated the rift.
Jetten’s proposals include making it mandatory that fuel sold at filling station in the Netherlands be a blend of sustainable and more expensive fuels, which would push up petrol prices even further and thus discourage the use of cars. This could happen as early as next year. Then, by 2025, the BPM purchase tax on new petrol and diesel cars could rise sharply, potentially becoming double what it is now. Jetten wants to make a decision on this within a few weeks.
A parliamentary debate on Monday already showed that the coalition parties’ members are divided about additional climate measures that are necessary to achieve the coalition agreement’s target for reducing carbon emissions. D66 MP Raoul Boucke said that his party has "no taboos" when it comes to combating climate change. But VVD, CDA and ChristenUnie have already announced that they cannot support measures that make life even more expensive for people in the Netherlands, partly due to the consequences of the war in Ukraine.
Even still, Jetten wants to press forward with his plan. Sources confirmed that Jetten has indeed put his proposals on the table. But they also said that he was immediately told by colleagues from other parties in the Cabinet that he will not receive support for them. There was not an argument, but it was a "difficult conversation," one source said.
The possible automotive measures must also form part of a broader package to also make industry, agriculture, and homes more sustainable more quickly. Jetten already said on Monday that fairness and a good balance in the distribution of benefits and burdens are essential. Citizens, in particular, must be "unburdened.”
Any push to raise fuel prices will harm millions of workers, the CNV labor union said. The union called for the plan to be scrapped as it can easily cost workers an extra hundred euros every month, said CNV chair Piet Fortuin.
Cars are still necessary for more than 60 percent of people to get to work, the CNV said. Electric cars are still too expensive for the vast majority of working people in the Netherlands and they are therefore dependent on a petrol or diesel car, the union said. "We have been arguing for a higher travel allowance at the collective bargaining tables for some time now," Fortuin said. At some point they will hit a limit if the Cabinet continues down this road, he argued.
Since this year, the tax-free travel allowance increased to 21 cents per kilometer. "This higher fee will of course be canceled out immediately if the Cabinet makes petrol and diesel more expensive again," said Fortuin. "Should the Cabinet come up with higher fuel prices, then adequate compensation for employees is very necessary."