Decree To Limit Employee CO2 Emissions From 2023 In The Netherlands

3 min read
Mar 30, 2022

Climate change is a reality that governments are sometimes slow to face and act against. However, there is hope in the form of new rules and regulations enacted to slow the impact of climate change.

In 2022, the Dutch government mandated a new rule requiring companies with over 100 employees to monitor, measure and report on the CO2 emissions of their staff. This new rule has taken effect on January 1st, 2023.

What is the new “Environmental Decree on Limiting Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Traffic”?

Dutch employers with 100 or more employees must report on the CO2 emissions of their employees travelling for business, including their commute. Companies found to exceed the maximum emissions standard will have four years to lower their carbon emissions.

For organisations and their personnel, lowering emissions could mean more strictly surveying staff’s travel and commuting habits. It could also mean encouraging a change in those habits towards modes of transport with fewer emissions such as bicycles, public transport, electric vehicles or simply reducing the distances travelled.

Why the new decree?

It is no secret that the world is heating up. It is also no secret that most countries aren’t hitting their 2030 climate goals.

The aim of this decree is to provide emissions data to enable the introduction of further measures. Based on the data, the Cabinet already aspires to impose a standard for CO2 emissions in business as of 2026. These rules should lead to a reduction of CO2 levels for the Netherlands to achieve its 2030 climate objectives.

What is the impact of the decree?

Although many Dutch citizens support climate change initiatives, this measure is proving to be divisive. While employers worry about this new obligation being time-consuming and costly, employees worry about their privacy.

Both are legitimate concerns. Companies have nine months to set up a solution that will enable them to track and report on their employees’ travels – but this isn’t their core activity. And with the rise of privacy and security concerns, it is understandable that people are nervous at the idea of their "every movement" being tracked by their employer. Some, on both sides, are even concerned about the introduction of further restrictions or fines for non-compliance.

However, large organisations such as PwC have already begun the process of logging employee CO2 emissions. Tools such as Greentripper and CO2logic make it easy for companies to calculate and collect this information. At Mobilexpense, we are working towards building CO2 awareness into our product. Our partner TravelPerk provides CO2 data for each booking. Mobility platforms such as Tranzer also support travellers by providing CO2 emission insights for each trip.

How will the decree affect corporate travel?

Slowing climate change is a difficult issue requiring strict measures. Which is why we need to do more than monitor CO2 emissions. We need to be able to influence the behaviour leading to those emissions. Companies, especially, can have a sustained impact on their employees’ CO2 emissions for work travel. Therefore, CO2 emissions tracking will have to become part of companies' expense report compliance process.

Travel less

The feasibility of the obvious "travel less" has been highlighted by two years of pandemic making Zoom and Teams the global “carriers” of choice. But there is more that companies and employees alike can do to help reach our collective climate goals – and simplify reporting.

Update the company travel policy

Companies are encouraged to review their travel policy with sustainability in mind. Options which contribute fewer emissions such as the train or shared vehicles (cars, bicycles, scooters, or even steps!) should be highlighted and made more easily available for employees to use.

This hybrid model called Mobility as a Service, or MaaS, is gaining in traction in Asia Oceania and set to grow very fast in the rest of the world by 2030.

Bring CO2 emission awareness

Another option is for more travel companies to share the CO2 emissions of each trip. Even better is highlighting the fare type or mode of transportation with the lowest CO2 emissions for said trip.

When faced with the “cost” of a one-hour flight vs. a three-hour train ride, many people will choose the latter with the environment in mind. It’s about giving them the data to make that better choice themselves. It's also about making it easy for them to be quickly reimbursed for that better choice.

Introduce rewards

The above approach is best paired with that of a “CO2 budget” per employee. Overconsumed budgets would force people to rethink their travel choices. Unconsumed budgets could lead to enticing employee incentives.

In conclusion

The Dutch “Environmental Decree on Limiting Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Traffic” is likely to be followed by other local European decrees. Cities such as Brussels or Berlin already have “low emission zones” for vehicles. And the automotive industry is being pushed to offer only low to zero-emission vehicles going forwards.

CO2 emission reduction is unlikely to become reality if not encouraged by governmental policy steering behaviours towards more ecologically conscious choices. Again, this doesn’t have to mean a stick for “bad behaviour”. It can just as easily mean a tax benefit for “below budget” companies or employees.