Ministry of Finance: ‘Nitrogen targets unnecessarily high’ | NOW

The Ministry of Finance believes that the nitrogen targets for agriculture, according to released documents, are unnecessarily high. This is because the effects of previous measures in connection with the climate agreement have not been taken into account.

This may mean that agriculture must implement fewer nitrogen reductions. Still, between 5,300 and 11,200 farms, according to ministry estimates, must stop to reach nitrogen targets.

The documents were sent to the House of Representatives after an article was published in NRC Handelsblad. The newspaper has previously managed to obtain some of the released documents.

The documents show that there are major differences of opinion between the auditors of Finans and the officials of the Minister of Nitrogen Christianne van der Wal. It has been discussed several times over the past year. In a letter to the House of Representatives, Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag emphasizes that this is “internal advice to their own ministers and not cabinet policy”.

Finans wants to buy out large livestock users ‘targeted and mandatory’

The internal documents show that the ministries have two scenarios for reducing nitrogen.

The financial plan is much cheaper than the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (LNV), which houses Minister Van der Wal. Finance assumes an amount of 10.4 billion euros to achieve a reduction of 23.5 kilotons of nitrogen per year. That should be enough to meet international obligations. For this, 5,300 farmers had to be bought out. Finance argues for a “targeted and mandatory” policy where the so-called top taxpayers must stop their business.

LNV presupposes a reduction of 30 to 40 kilotons, which according to the Ministry of Finance is “unnecessarily high”. The Ministry of Finance states that the agricultural sector must reduce nitrogen emissions less than has been announced so far. This is because the effects of measures in connection with the climate agreement are not included, which means that “less effort is needed for agriculture”.

According to Finans, Van der Wal’s plans are more expensive than expected

If Van der Wal sticks to his plans, 11,200 farmers will have to stop their business, according to calculations by the Ministry of Finance. The costs for this are therefore higher than the more than DKK 23 billion reserved for this. According to Finance, costs could rise from 30 to 45 billion euros.

Finans sees great risks if LNV continues its plans unchanged. These plans mean that farmers have three choices: They can stop their business, continue with fewer livestock or become nature managers. That way, the pain is shared across a wide range of companies.

But the Ministry of Finance fears that the goals in this way “will not be achieved for a long time”. In that case, the EU will “enforce a follow-up package”. It will also continue to be impossible to issue permits for housing and industry again, something that is already virtually impossible.

Another danger is that farmers who receive fixed payments to preserve nature become a major expense. And this is something that, according to finance officials, “has not been taken into account” by their colleagues from the LNV.

Significant amount and provides ‘nothing extra’ for nitrogen and climate

At the request of the Ministry of Finance, plans from the ministry’s own ministry and LNV’s plans were compared by the Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency. In both scenarios, the nitrogen targets have been reached, the authority has determined. Although the LNV’s plans turned out to be slightly more favorable for nature, “the remaining ones (the farmers who continue)” cost no less than 15 billion euros extra. “This is a significant amount, while it does nothing extra for nitrogen and climate,” economics officials said.

The document on which NRC Handelsblad her release from last week, was discussed during a meeting of RIVM and then apparently leaked.

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