The Netherlands aims to emit 55% less CO2 by 2030 compared to 1990, and 95% less by 2050. The Dutch Climate Agreement outlines the measures that sectors will take in the coming 10 years to achieve the CO2 reduction targets.
In this article, you will read why now is a good time to invest in sustainability. You will also find out how to measure your footprint and which options you have to reduce your CO2 emissions. As Van der Rijt emphasizes: "Now you can still get a subsidy, but when half of the companies have already crossed the line, the subsidies will disappear. You will have then to pay the investment yourself."
Increasing sustainability costs money, but there are ways to make it financially attractive, explains Rob van der Rijt. "The government offers financing and subsidy schemes to help entrepreneurs make their business more sustainable. Suppose you switch to an electric heat pump. With green financing (‘groenfinanciering’), for example, you get a discount on the interest you pay if you borrow money from the bank. In combination with the Sustainable energy investment subsidy scheme (ISDE), you can gain real benefits. Applying for a subsidy takes time, but your accountant or a consultancy firm can help you with this.”
According to Van der Rijt, all the signs show that this is a good time for you to start making your business more sustainable now. "The laws and regulations are becoming increasingly strict. Look at the requirement for energy label C for office buildings, for example. If you do not have that label by 2023, you may no longer rent out your office building. Or the fact that the government is going to enforce the energy efficiency obligation more strictly.”
The fact that the European price for CO2 is rising so much is also a sign of the times, says Van der Rijt. "A power station, for example, that has to pay more for its emissions, passes on these higher costs to its customers. So if you look into how you can save as much as possible on your consumption now, that cost increase will have less influence on you later on. All these developments mean that it is now attractive to invest in sustainability."
Measure your CO2 footprint
Before you come up with measures to reduce your business’ emissions, it is useful to know where you emit the most. After all, you want be smart and reduce where it makes the most sense. Measuring your carbon footprint is a good first step. There are tools that provide insight into your emissions:
- The Milieubarometer by Stimular
- The CO2 calculator (in Dutch) from Klimaatplein
With these tools, you complete an online questionnaire about your energy consumption, fuel consumption, business traffic, and goods transport. The tool then identifies the largest sources of CO2 emissions for your business. This differs per sector.
Van der Rijt: "For a transporter, diesel consumption accounts for 90% of their CO2 footprint. For a machine builder, the biggest source is energy consumption to manufacture the machines. If you make curtain fabrics, then the situation is entirely different again. You need a lot of natural gas to dry the fabrics. It also makes a difference which phase of making your business more sustainability you are in: "Some companies buy green electricity or have roofs full of solar panels. They already emit 0% CO2 when they use electricity.”
Get started with CO2 reduction
Based on your profile, the tools above provide insight into the measures you can take to reduce your emissions. You can choose the measures that will reduce your business’ CO2 emissions the most, but you can also focus on the measures that will cost the least or have the quickest effect.
The CO2 reduction options that most companies apply:
1. Use less energy
Small changes in your energy behaviour cost little and can really make a difference. For example, you can prevent standby power consumption by turning off devices that are left on unnecessarily or lights that are on at night. Simple measures such as closing doors and windows or insulating pipes ensure that no heat is lost. And have you thought of energy-efficient printing? There are many more tips to reduce energy consumption (in Dutch). Van der Rijt indicates that these quick wins result in immediate savings. "If you prevent wasting energy, every kilowatt-hour of electricity you save, does not need to be generated sustainably either.”
2. Sustainable purchasing
Companies can also reduce CO2 emissions with a sustainable purchasing policy. For example, by buying locally, buying products with a quality mark, or using bulk packaging. The Checklist for sustainable public procurement gives tips and guides you step by step towards a sustainable purchasing process. And the CO2 Performance Ladder helps you to be an interesting party for tenders.
3. Make transport more sustainable
A good opportunity for increasing your sustainability is to switch to electric driving. In the budget for 2022, the subsidies that help entrepreneurs with this have been expanded. The Royal Dutch Touring Club ANWB lists a top 10 of the most fuel-efficient cars (in Dutch). If you transport goods or deliver packages, you can also look into combining loads or working with other transporters. Van der Rijt says that investments of this kind have a short payback period.
You also reduce your CO2 emissions by travelling less. It helps your emissions to have employees work from home more often, or to encourage them to come by public transport or bicycle. The government has set up schemes to stimulate cycling.
4. Use raw materials and resources more sparingly
You can also use fewer raw materials or resources that last longer. When you buy or make products, consider planning for repair and recycling in their life cycle. Saving on waste also reduces CO2 emissions. Make a start on separating your waste. Also look into the options for using less plastic.
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