Evaluation of the CO2 Performance Ladder. Results from a survey, case studies and a workshop

This study evaluates the effectiveness of the CO2 Performance Ladder (CO2 PL) in reducing CO2 emissions, both at certificate holding companies and in the supply chain. It builds on the findings of a previous literature review of evaluations of the CO2 PL.

The evaluation was conducted by a survey of 488 CO2 PL certificate holders (39% of all participants), six case studies with interviews, a survey of a control group of 97 companies that are not certificate holders, and a workshop with ten certified companies.

The main conclusions are:

  • The main drivers for taking part in the CO2 PL are its advantage in tenders (large companies), and because the CO2 PL provides insight into emissions and a road map for CO2 reduction (small companies).
  • The CO2 PL is an effective instrument for helping companies to reduce their Scope 1 and 2 emissions.
  • The additionality of the CO2 PL is lower than in previous studies.
  • Most companies did not use targets before joining the CO2 PL.
  • Targets are often set lower than the actual ambition level.
  • No definitive conclusions can be drawn on the effectiveness of the CO2 PL on Scope 3 emissions.
  • In terms of changing attitudes within the organisation, most companies report a modest effect of the CO2 PL.
  • The impact of the CO2 PL on reducing emissions in the supply chain (and heavy industry) is small compared to stricter procurement tools and national or EU level policy instruments.

The added value of adaptation of the CO2 PL is highest for companies, sectors, and regions that have little insight in their emissions. There, the CO2 PL can be used to provide insight and set targets for reducing emissions. A standardised central database (especially on Scope 3 emissions) would make it possible to analyse absolute emission reductions and validate the theory of change.

Most companies are either certified at Level 3 or at Level 5. Currently the CO2 PL has five certificate levels. We recommend simplifying the CO2 PL to two levels.