27 06 2024

Significant political developments — how do they affect Aramis?

The new Dutch government plans have been finalised. While the outline agreement specifically covers issues related to the likes of heat pumps and solar panels, the coalition aims to cut back on climate policy funding. What does that mean for the development of CCS? Joep Sweyen, public affairs lead at Aramis, interprets these recent developments.

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Joep Sweyen, Public Affairs Lead at Aramis

“Our attitude towards the outside world is open and transparent”

Part of Joep’s job is to map the political landscape and public opinion, both in the Netherlands and beyond. He keeps the Aramis team abreast of any developments that might affect the project in areas such as public perception, politics and policymaking. At the same time, he informs the outside world about the why and how of the Aramis project and seeks to boost its image: “Our attitude towards the outside world is open and transparent. Essentially, we tell everyone who we are, what we do and why.”

Joep, what does the coalition agreement say about climate policy and CCS in particular?

Looking back on recent years, it is evident that climate policy — and the role of CCS — is now more frequently discussed and has increasing political significance. The new plans will not change that, and the cabinet’s climate policy remains largely intact. CCS is also explicitly mentioned in the outline agreement. I thought the section on energy rather brief, but it did mention the importance of CCS and how it may potentially qualify for Climate Fund subsidies.

That’s great news. However, the cabinet is committed to cutting funding. This means that, in short, there is no clear message yet. It remains to be seen how the new coalition will position itself on CCS. But the importance of CCS in achieving climate goals is undeniable and support only seems to be growing. So, I do not expect major changes for Aramis.

“The importance of CCS in achieving climate goals is undeniable”

And what are the potential consequences of a political shift for Aramis, which has already moved to the development phase?

It could, for example, impact CCS subsidies. Although that may not be directly relevant to Aramis because we do not apply for the Renewable Energy Grant Scheme (SDE++), the project’s end customers do. The government could decide to make less money available for subsidies or change regulations, with potential negative consequences for CCS development.

Alternatively, the coalition may limit support for CCS projects, and we could see fewer official announcements and actions in this area. Fortunately, it is not possible to make sudden policy changes. Proposed changes are typically aligned with the budgetary cycle, so any adjustments would not be implemented until 2025.

There have also been elections at the European level. The provisional results are now in. What is your initial reaction?

I believe that the dynamics in Brussels will more or less remain the same, but there have been significant gains for the political right. This faction tends to oppose European cooperation in general and climate policy in particular, which remains a risk. But whoever is in charge, they will still have to take responsibility — not just for the climate but also for the future of industry. And one way or another, this will ultimately lead to adopting technologies such as CCS.

“Whoever is in charge, they will still have to take responsibility for the climate”

Can you say something about interactions between individual member states and the EU in a constantly shifting political landscape?

There certainly is interaction, as exemplified, for example, by two key policy documents published by the EU in the past year. One of them, the Net-Zero Industry Act, emphasises that CCS is a crucial technology for making our economy and industry more sustainable. The technology covered by this legislation receives support at both European and member state levels. The other document is the CCS strategy, published by the European Commission a few months ago, which again strongly emphasises the importance of CCS.

Moreover, CCS developments in individual member states like the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway are prompting other countries to explore CO2 transport and storage as well, with the Netherlands perhaps serving as a storage location. For instance, Germany recently adopted its first CCS strategy, acknowledging the vital role of CSS for industry. To avoid reinventing the wheel, collaboration with countries that are ahead of the curve will then be essential. So, I sincerely hope that Aramis can provide a solution for industries across Europe.