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Accelerating carbon emissions reduction through the power of procurement, by dissemination of the CO2 Performance Ladder in Europe project

  • Published on February 17, 2022


The CO2 Performance Ladder is a CO2 management system that helps organizations reduce carbon emissions. It also functions as a procurement tool, as certified organizations can receive an award advantage in tenders. The CO2 Performance Ladder is managed by the Foundation for Climate Friendly Procurement and Business (SKAO).

Together with IISD, SKAO seeks to expand the use of the instrument beyond the Netherlands and Belgium. Ultimately, the project aims to accelerate carbon emission reductions in Europe through green public procurement.

IISD supports SKAO in identifying European countries and business networks that could use the CO2 Performance Ladder. This includes a quick scan of all European Union member states, as well as an in-depth feasibility study of selected countries and networks.

We engage with stakeholders such as procurement agencies and industry associations to learn about the potential of scaling up the use of the CO2 Performance Ladder. The results will be presented in the feasibility study and help to implement pilot projects with interested procurers and businesses.

This project supports the dissemination of the CO2 Performance Ladder, a tool for low-carbon procurement and carbon management. Widespread procurement with the CO2 Performance Ladder can speed up the decarbonization of companies, projects, and supply chains.

For the last twelve years, the CO2 Performance Ladder has been responsible for a significant reduction of companies’ and governments’ CO2 emissions in the Netherlands. 
The project, Accelerating carbon emissions reduction through the power of procurement, by dissemination of the CO2 Performance Ladder in Europe project (CO2 PLEU), will research the possibilities to disseminate this best practice instrument, and in so doing boost green public procurement and CO2 reduction. 
  • The project began with a quick scan of countries and buyers groups, resulting in an overview of the situation – and the opportunities – across Europe. 
  • The results of the quick scan feed into the next stage: the feasibility study, which will research a few candidates in more depth and eventually result in expressions of interest from local parties to set up pilot projects implementing the ladder. 
  • Lessons learned from the twelve year history of the ladder in the Netherlands, and the current pilot in Belgium, will provide important insight for potential new initiatives. 
Throughout the project, care will be taken to align with broader developments such as the European Green Deal. The project is based on the theory that green public procurement can result in a green revolution among companies and their supply chains: a theory that has been demonstrated in the Netherlands and Belgium. The more procuring parties implement green public procurement, the bigger the impact on companies and their supply chains. Procurement accounts for €1.8 trillion of public spending in the EU alone, or 14% of EU GDP. 

What is the CO2 Performance Ladder? 

The CO2 Performance Ladder is a practical and powerful instrument that uses the power of green procurement to reduce the carbon emissions of governments, heavy industries, companies and their supply chains. 

When procuring parties apply the CO 2 Performance Ladder during projects, CO2 reduction is rewarded with award advantage for the bidding companies. The higher the ambition level of the company, the higher the award advantage. To get certified, organisations are assessed annually as to whether they meet the requirements of the CO 2 Performance Ladder. 

Over 4.000 organisations are already certified (over 1.100 certificates) on the CO 2 Performance Ladder, and over 150 procuring parties (including the Dutch infrastructure agency Rijkswaterstaat, ProRail , and various local governments bodies such as provinces, cities and municipalities) use the CO 2 Performance Ladder as a green procurement instrument in tendering processes.


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