Province of Gelderland: The climate problem requires more than green energy

As the first Dutch province with a certificate on the CO2 Performance Ladder, the province of Gelderland aims to become carbon neutral, climate neutral and waste free by the year 2030. The province knows that more efforts are required to achieve these ambitious goals than solely tackling the energy streams of their buildings. With the help of the CO2 Performance Ladder, Gelderland expects to not only accelerate their transition to sustainability, but also to come up with concrete solutions that will be accessible and applicable in all layers of the organisation.

On Wednesday the 13th of February, Gelderland obtained a certificate on level 3 of the CO2 Performance Ladder. For the Foundation of Climate Friendly Procurement and Business (SKAO), owner and administrator of the CO2 Performance Ladder, the certificate award ceremony was a great opportunity to ask the province about its experiences and ambitions in reducing CO2 emissions with the help of the Ladder. SKAO spoke with Margareta Rajkowski, member of the board of directors of Gelderland, and Els Martijn, external advisor of Firm of the Future, project leader of sustainability for the internal organisation.

Gelderland is the first province in the Netherlands with a certificate on the CO2 Performance Ladder. How did you make this achievement possible?

Rajkowski: We are extremely proud of this achievement! It was the request of our board members to obtain a certificate on the CO2 Performance Ladder for our organisation. When it comes to sustainability and CO2 reduction within our organisation, I have seen nothing but plenty of support and enthusiasm. The province aims to accelerate the transition to a carbon neutral and climate neutral organisation. A certificate on the CO2 Performance Ladder is therefore a logical step, because it provides much needed structure in our plans to reduce CO2.

Martijn: The province has been working for a long time on plans to make the internal organisation more sustainable. To make this possible, we mapped out the carbon emissions of the entire organisation and the factors and energy streams that influence the amount of CO2 emitted. Since 2014 we keep track of our carbon emissions and energy streams for which we publish reports every two years. In 2018 we managed to structure all the data we have collected on carbon emissions and energy streams into a Climate Plan for the internal organisation.

Thanks to the CO2 Performance Ladder, we have now expanded our Climate Plan by broadening our focus and tackling more than just the energy streams, because that is too limited. Sustainability is about CO2 and energy, but it also concerns subjects such as waste management. We now know exactly how much waste the organisation produces and how much CO2 is emitted, not just in the organisation, but specifically in our activities and projects. When our board members requested a certificate on the CO2 Performance Ladder, it became easier for us to obtain the certificate at an accelerated pace, because all the ground work had been done before. All the necessary data was available, because we have previously used the data to pinpoint our biggest challenge in climate mitigation.

And what is the biggest challenge for Gelderland to mitigate climate change?

Rajkowski: We want to share our knowledge and experience on the CO2 Performance Ladder with our entire supply chain. Therefore, we will request sustainability and carbon reduction methods in all our purchasing and procurement activities. Not only will this be done for large scale infrastructure projects, it will also be applied in the purchase of office supplies, hiring external organisations and the purchase of IT products. Therein lies the biggest challenge for Gelderland, because we notice that the market is oftentimes not yet ready to adhere to our requests in sustainability and CO2 reduction. The question is then how far we can go in requesting sustainability to our suppliers. We want to have sufficient offers in our purchasing and procurement activities and we want to be able to go the extra mile when it comes to sustainability. However, we also want to offer more organisations the opportunity to collaborate with us. On the one hand, we want to stimulate suppliers and other organisations we work with to do more with sustainability and on the other hand, we must also accept what businesses can handle at the moment and the limitations they are faced with. This i