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With Car or Train? Large Companies Must Monitor Employee Emissions

With Car or Train? Large Companies Must Monitor Employee Emissions

Source: RTL Z Netherlands

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

This article is republished and translated from RTL Z Netherlands and is being shared here because the use of a GPS Tracker significantly simplifies the registration of business trips and commuting, making the registration of CO2 emissions effective and efficient.

Starting in July, companies in the Netherlands with more than one hundred employees must track how much CO2 their employees emit during business trips and commuting. Similar initiatives are being undertaken in other EU countries [Red] While this may not mean much for employees initially, the SME sector finds this obligation unmanageable, according to the SME Netherlands (MKB-Nederland)  trade association. What is going on?

  1. What Does the CO2 Registration Obligation Entail?

    Companies with one hundred or more employees must annually report the kilometers their employees travel for commuting and business trips, such as meetings with clients, starting July 1.

    This includes the number of kilometers traveled by car, (motor)bike, or public transport, often requiring a breakdown by type of vehicle and type of fuel (e.g., petrol, diesel, or electric cars). Air and boat travel are excluded.

    A breakdown is necessary because CO2 emissions vary by type of vehicle and fuel, says the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). Businesses must report to this government agency. According to Statistics Netherlands (CBS), there are about 8,000 companies in the Netherlands with 100 or more employees.

  2. Why Is This Necessary?

    The reporting obligation is part of the Climate Agreement, where the government has laid down agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By mapping emissions, it can be determined whether they are decreasing sufficiently and if further measures are needed to reduce emissions.

    The reporting requirement aims to achieve at least one megaton of 'CO2 savings' by 2030. The Regulatory Pressure Assessment Advisory Board is critical of the rule implementation, questioning the extent to which this will improve sustainability.

  3. What Happens to the Data?

    Based on the kilometers and modes of transport entered, the RVO's software calculates the CO2 emissions. The number of passenger kilometers per combination of vehicle and fuel type is multiplied by a factor.

    Companies then receive the results in a report, which also includes tips on how to further reduce emissions. According to the RVO, the data is stored in a database and used for further research with permission. The data is also forwarded to the local environmental service, which checks whether companies comply with the registration obligation and if all data is accurate.

    "We are essentially a conduit and do not do much with the data," says an RVO spokesperson. The environmental services take care of the rest.

  4. What If Companies Do Not Comply with the Rules?

    In 2026, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management will assess whether the emissions of all companies combined remain below the agreed ceiling. If the answer is yes, the reporting obligation will remain. If the norm is exceeded, employers will face a 'maximum emission' - a general limit they must comply with, according to the ministry.

  5. Why Are Smaller Entrepreneurs Unhappy with the Obligation?

    Jacco Vonhof, chairman of MKB-Nederland, calls the obligation madness and an example of excessive regulatory pressure, he tells RTL Z. His organization, along with VNO-NCW, is addressing this with the government. "We have been opposing it for a while, but now it is almost here."

    According to the SME leader, companies must indeed tackle their emissions, but whether this approach is effective remains to be seen. "Who will check everything and what will the government do with it all?" According to Vonhof, that is still a big question mark.

    "Meanwhile, it costs companies a lot of time and energy, and some may need to hire extra staff," he says. Keeping track and registering requires a lot of manual work. "You have to bear the costs yourself," says the chairman, who prefers efforts to go directly towards green measures. "Such as encouraging entrepreneurs to drive electric or have employees come by bike."

  6. What Do Large Companies Think?

    Large companies seem positive about the reporting obligation. PostNL, one of the largest employers in the Netherlands, tells ANP that the regulation is 'a good initiative,' although the company admits that tracking the travel movements of more than 34,000 employees is 'quite a lot of work.'

    ING is also positive. Especially because the bank has been monitoring the CO2 emissions of domestic business trips for a few years, making the regulation a good fit, according to spokesperson Karin van de Pol. "ING will get an even better view of CO2 emissions from business trips, but also from commuting."

  7. What Does the Registration Obligation Mean for Me as an Employee?

    Essentially, the regulatory burden lies with the employer, not the employee, but your employer may ask you for information about the trips you make. Employees might also be encouraged to take the train more often or work from home.

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