CO2 Performance Ladder in Europe

For the last thirteen years, the CO2 Performance Ladder has been responsible for a significant reduction of companies’ and governments’ CO2 emissions in the Netherlands and Belgium. Due to increasing international interest (including a pilot project in Belgium), the Foundation for Climate Friendly Procurement and Business (SKAO), together with the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), is investigating the feasibility of the CO2 Performance Ladder in several European countries. This project is supported by the IKEA Foundation.

The project, Accelerating carbon emissions reduction through the power of procurement, by dissemination of the CO2 Performance Ladder in Europe project (CO2PLEU), researches the possibilities to disseminate this best practice instrument, towards a Europe wide dissemination. In this way the CO2 Performance Ladder can boost green public procurement and CO2 reduction even further.

  • First, a quick scan was conducted, looking at countries, regions and buyers groups, resulting in an overview of the Green Public Procurement situation – and the opportunities – across Europe.
  • The results of the quick scan feed into the next stage: the feasibility study, which researches the potential for piloting the Ladder in 10 countries in more depth (ee map below), via interviews and focus groups with local stakeholders.
  • The feasibility study aims to obtain expressions of interest from local parties to set up pilot projects implementing the ladder.
  • Lessons learned from the thirteen year history of the CO2 Performance Ladder in the Netherlands, and the current pilot in Belgium, are being collected in order to provide important insight for potential new initiatives.
  • As part of the project, care will be taken to align with broader international developments such as the European Green Deal, including by building contacts at European level.

The project runs for 1.5 years, from August 2021 to January 2023.

The Power of Procurement

Green public procurement (which accounts for 15% of carbon emissions globally) is a driver of decarbonisation, innovation and commercialization of low-carbon infrastructure, goods and services.

The CO2 Performance Ladder uses the ‘Power of Procurement’ to drive change by stimulating structural CO2 reduction through the implementation of an effective CO2 management system.
It is an optional tool in the tendering process, whereby CO2 reduction is rewarded with an award advantage for the bidding companies. The higher the ambition level of the company, the higher the award advantage.
Over 200 public procuring agencies in the Netherlands and Belgium (e.g. ministries and municipalities) are currently using the CO2 Performance Ladder in their tendering processes. These tenders stimulated over 5000 organizations (75 % SMEs) to implement a carbon management system and to get certified on the CO2 Performance Ladder.

Advantages for procuring agencies

  • Proven methodology: the CO2 Performance Ladder is the standard GPP tool in the Netherlands and Belgium.
  • The CO2 Performance Ladder is user-friendly, and has low transaction costs for getting started. Procuring authorities simply give companies the possibility to submit a form along with their bid, attesting to their proposed level of commitment on the Ladder;
  • It requires 3rd party accreditation, which lowers the burden on procurement authorities to verify that companies are doing what they say they will do on their bids; and
  • The CO2 Performance Ladder has been developed and used in compliance with the EU Procurement Directive, making it immediately applicable in other EU countries.

Advantages for companies

  • Green business case: award & competitive advantage in tenders
  • The CO2 Performance Ladder is proven to be effective at structural carbon reduction. Organisations certified on the Ladder reduce their emissions twice as fast as the average.
  • Getting certified reinforces businesses’ market position as a sustainable supplier, and helps them to improve their products and services through innovation.
  • The Ladder follows the one tool one language principle – meaning a certificate can be used for all projects for all contracting authorities using the Ladder in their procurement, whether local, regional, national or international.

Project partners 

  • SKAO, the Foundation for Climate friendly Procurement and Business, is the independent owner and manager of the CO2 Performance Ladder, and manages this project
  • Alongside SKAO, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) lead the quick scan and feasibility studies.

COLogic leads the Belgian pilot and the collection of the lessons learned in Belgium.

This project is supported by the IKEA Foundation.

How can you get involved?

Get in touch!

  • Tell us about the GPP situation in your country, region or sector (as part of the feasibility study).
  • Connect us to your network.
  • Invite us to explain more about the CO2 Performance Ladder and the project.
  • Maybe you’d even like to implement the Ladder in your Procurement, or host the ladder in your country?

And who knows, potentially because of your recommendation, we will be able to start a pilot in that country, region or sector! To get in touch, please send an email to

Further reading