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VNG program: on the way to CO2 reduction by municipalities

In the Climate Agreement, a CO2 reduction of 49% by 2030 has been agreed. That also means work to be done for municipalities. A tool that helps to make this reduction measurable is the CO2 Performance Ladder. The VNG developed a special program: CO2 reduction by municipalities. The municipality of Soest is certified under this program for level 3 on the CO2 Performance Ladder. Marloes Borsboom-Turabaz of the VNG and Soest alderman Nermina Kundić explain which steps municipalities can take in reducing CO2 emissions.

The VNG program mainly revolves around CO2 reduction in ground, road and hydraulic engineering (GWW). There is a lot to be gained here, according to Marloes Borsboom-Turabaz, project leader of the VNG program for CO2 reduction by municipalities. "It is a somewhat underexposed task from the Climate Agreement. The energy transition directly affects citizens and this is where a large part of the municipal attention is focused. But it is precisely in civil engineering terrain that a lot of climate gains can be achieved. The construction and infrastructure sector involves €15 billion, the sectors together responsible for 40% of CO2 emissions in our country. Municipalities are clients for civil engineering projects in about 60% of cases. These figures underline the enormous potential for CO2 reduction in municipalities. Every local government has subscribed to the ambition for CO2 reduction. The CO2 Performance Ladder is the way to show what you as a municipality are doing to reduce CO2. Municipalities that use the Ladder set a good example to residents and show that it is possible."

Marloes Borsboom-Turabaz

Sharing knowledge and aligning regionally 

Borsboom-Turabaz recognizes that municipalities sometimes need support for the climate challenge. "It is a technical matter and especially small municipalities do not always have the necessary knowledge and/or capacity in house. The VNG therefore gladly supports and stimulates municipalities to take regional action. Sewerage, roads and heating networks do not stop at municipal boundaries. Regional coordination is already taking place in many places. A good example is Noord-Brabant. The province and municipalities have developed a joint approach there. On November 19, the VNG is organizing an online inspiration session in which we show how this approach works."

Sustainable ambitions and tenders

Steering towards CO2 reduction starts by having clear ambitions as a municipality, Borsboom-Turabaz indicates. "The ambition web was adopted last year in Groningen, in which the Groningen sustainability ambitions are structured. Groningen will focus on 12 themes. In addition to determining the municipal ambition level, it is also important to look at what is possible for each project before launching a tender. The CO2 Performance Ladder is a clear foundation for requirements and wishes that you as a municipality can and want to set in tenders. Some municipalities ask for “level 5” in the tender in their tenders. Studies show that the market can certainly cope with additional requirements in terms of CO2 reduction in the method and materials. But you do have to discuss this with each other at an early stage. About what is possible and about who pays for any additional costs in what way. That differs per assignment. Many municipalities now request a certain certification level in tenders, but are not yet certified themselves. Such a certification can certainly add something. It helps in transparency towards residents and cooperation partners."

Intersectoral approach

What does a successful approach to CO2 reduction look like? Borsboom-Turabaz: "The most important thing is to look across sectors and combine assignments. If you are embarking on an infrastructure project, check which assignments you can take with you at the same time. In the Arnhem-Nijmegen region, for example, they are looking at how circularity is given a place in the civil engineering. The region has set itself the goal of having 3 concrete civil engineering projects executed in a circular manner. All kinds of other ambitions and aspects are also taken into account. A good example of how you increase impact by integrally applying sustainability."


Practical example Soest

The municipality of Soest is the first municipality under the VNG program for CO2 reduction by municipalities to be certified for level 3 on the CO2 Performance Ladder. Soest thus became the tenth municipality to receive the certificate. Alderman Nermina Kundić: "The CO2 Performance Ladder is an excellent way to measure how we are doing as a municipality. In this way we know whether the actions we take to increase sustainability also have the desired effect and we can adjust the policy. We think it is important to explicitly also look at our own footprint. "The municipality as an example" is 1 of the 4 programs with which we want to achieve the objectives of the Climate Agreement. The others are living, working and mobility. We are now certified at level 3. From levels 4 and 5, we are also working on CO2 emissions in the chain and sector, we are not quite there yet. But of course we do set the necessary sustainability requirements in our purchasing policy. "

Alderman Nermina Kundić shows the CO2 Performance Ladder certificate from the municipality of Soest

Kundić wholeheartedly recommends the VNG program and the use of the CO2 Performance Ladder. "There is a will to actively work with CO2 reduction in all municipalities, but the results often lag behind because it is often difficult to grasp. By being certified for the CO2 Performance Ladder, you know where the bottlenecks are in your municipality and how you can tackle them."

> Read more about Soest's certification (Dutch)


About the project

Municipalities feel the urgency to comply with a 49% CO2 reduction in 2030 compared to 1990. They have almost unanimously agreed to the Climate Agreement. The challenge is to translate the ambitions in the field of CO2 reduction into policy and implementation. The VNG supports this with, among other things, the CO2 reduction by municipalities program, which is carried out with funding from the Climate Envelope. The program offers municipalities inspiration, handles and tools to take concrete steps in CO2 reduction. By stimulating cooperation, sharing best practices and also bringing smaller municipalities along, we achieve more impact together.


> Read more about the 'CO2 reduction by municipalities' program (Dutch)

This article previously appeared on www.vng.nl

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