For Minister for Climate and Energy Rob Jetten, all options are open in a gas crisis. “We are also looking at coal-fired power plants, but I will not hesitate to accelerate climate measures.” That‘s what he says in Nieuwsuur tonight.
“The Netherlands needs to reduce CO2 emissions faster. So subsidize, standardize and price more. That all needs to be done even faster,” says the minister, who does not want to lose sight of the climate during a gas crisis.
Yesterday, Jetten presented his explanation of the cabinet’s climate plans. It states that the cabinet wants to strengthen the direction of climate policy. Jetten emphasizes that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is an additional reason to make it even faster. The Netherlands must be climate-neutral by 2050.
“Through the war, we also experience that energy is a means of pressure from Russian President Vladimir Putin. We are now experiencing the burden of that. That‘s why we need to build the green economy faster,” says Jetten, who remains positive. “On average, we use a third less gas this year, gas consumption is already down sharply.”
There are also options for this winter, says Jetten. “Importing more liquefied gas. The Netherlands has a good starting position. We can import quickly from other countries. Companies are queuing to deliver to the Netherlands.”
This week, the Russian Gazprom abruptly decided to (partially) shut down the gas tap, because GasTerra, the Netherlands’s largest gas importer, does not want to pay in rubles. In any case, it has been agreed across Europe to be less dependent on Russian gas as soon as possible. But if Russia closes the gas tap earlier than Europe has alternatives, the Netherlands has an emergency plan.
For Jetten, the emergency plan is not yet necessary for the time being. “In the short term, we are in good shape.” But he does warn. “There can be a domino effect due to countries that are much more dependent on Russian gas. Then the neighbouring countries have to help and they can also end up with the Netherlands. That can be very exciting and that means taking emergency measures: temporarily allowing companies to use less gas, thereby sparing households.”
Dependence on Russian gas arose at the beginning of this century by his own hands. Then then Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende flew to Moscow to conclude a contract with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the supply of Siberian natural gas, for a period of twenty years . Despite Gasunie warnings that Putin could use natural gas as a political pressure tool, with serious consequences.
The cabinet works with the ‘Gas Protection and Recovery Plan’, from the Ministry of Economic Affairs. This provides for measures if a gas crisis occurs. For example, how gas will be distributed in case of scarcity. For example, if the crisis worsens, the cabinet can even shut down companies and entire parts of the Netherlands from natural gas. With the industry being disconnected first, but hospitals and households will be “protected users”.
Jetten: “The plan is work in progress. Now we understand much better that the situation is different and that we should never be dependent on one country again.” Jetten speaks with large gas consumers about the consequences of switching off. He does not want to mention sectors. “Because it concerns business-sensitive information.”
Coal plants, which are now running at 35 percent of capacity due to the climate targets, can therefore start running faster again in Jetten. “This is a European crisis, many countries are dependent on Russia. They really have an acute problem. Due to the domino effect, you have to be prepared for emergency measures.”