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In 2022, we took new steps towards climate neutrality: we obtained insight in our carbon footprint and formulated an ambition for reducing our emissions. From 2021 and onwards, we fully offset our remaining footprint. Our carbon reduction roadmap will help us to keep moving forward, with data that enable us to track our progress – or to see where we should accelerate.

Our commuting and travel movements are the major contributors to our footprint. Therefore, our journey towards reducing our carbon emissions and achieving climate neutrality includes working towards a more sustainable way of commuting. We also introduced a more sustainable firm-wide international travel policy with the ambition to reduce the carbon emissions from our international travel by 50% in 2030 (compared to 2019). Under this new policy, travelling by train is for instance our default option for distances under 700 kilometres.

Measuring our footprint
Our (first) footprint measurement was the first step taken to be able to define our carbon reduction goals and take action. The measurement covered the years 2019 (our baseline year), 2020 and 2021, and all NautaDutilh offices. It included our Scope 1, Scope 2 and a large part of our Scope 3 emissions (i.e. commuting, business travel, working from home, office waste, IT hardware, IT server data, and catering emissions from the restaurants in our Amsterdam and Rotterdam offices).

We used the outcome to define our carbon reduction ambitions.Our focus is on carbon reduction, and our aim is:  

  • by 2030, to reduce our carbon footprint by 55% compared to 2019, and
  • by 2050, to become net zero, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.

We offset our remaining emissions by investing in certified climate projects. In 2022, we compensated our 2021 emissions through a VCS certified agroforestry project in India.

Developing a carbon reduction roadmap
We used the footprint measurement data as starting point for the development of our carbon reduction roadmap for the short and medium term. Our possibilities of influencing emissions have an impact on the choices for our carbon reduction roadmap. The data show – unsurprisingly – that our largest impact lies in our Scope 3 emissions, and specifically commuting and air travel. We have implemented the first reduction measures in this respect.

In addition to travel related emissions, another large contributor to our footprint is equipment (IT hardware). We switched to mobile devices in 2019 and purchased additional IT equipment in 2020 and 2021 to facilitate working from home during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Several smaller contributors, such as waste, catering and paper use, can be influenced by changing our behaviour. A few other larger contributors are more difficult to influence. An example of this is the type of energy used in buildings where we are but a small tenant.

Our carbon roadmap is a work in progress. In the meantime, the data enable us to tackle two large contributors to our carbon emissions by integrating sustainability into our commuting policy and international travel policy.

A more sustainable way of commuting
Commuting is the largest contributor to our carbon footprint, i.e. 39.9% in 2019 (baseline year) and 27,7% in 2022. To reduce this aspect of our footprint, we enabled colleagues to reduce their commuting – through our flexible working policy, which enables the majority of our colleagues to work from home for a maximum of two days a week – and we integrated measures that encourage the use of more sustainable means of transport. Our commuting policy varies between jurisdictions to take into account local legislation and the accessibility of each office by public transport. In 2022, we developed a new mobility policy for our employees in the Netherlands, based on three pillars: sustainability, costs, and flexibility. The main changes include electrification of our lease cars, a mobility budget (with the option of public transport passes), and the use of lease bikes.

Our Brussels office encourages more sustainable means of commuting in different ways. We have replaced the small fleet of company cars by fully electric or hybrid models, in anticipation of new legislation in 2026. We use financial incentives and pilot projects to encourage the use of public transport and bikes. For instance, the Brussels Think Green Committee organised a 5-kilometre bike ride to the Palais de Justice to show that cycling in Brussels saves time and is easy to do. Still, nearly 70% of our Belgian colleagues commute by car. This is largely due to the fact that the Brussels office is located in the periphery of Brussels and is not easily accessible by public transport. Our Luxembourg office encourages the use of public transport – which is free – and bikes. In New York and London, all our colleagues travel to the office by public transport.

A more sustainable international travel policy
Our international travel contributed to 18.6% of our total CO2 emissions in 2019 and 17.8% in 2022, and is the second largest contributor to our footprint. During the pandemic, nobody travelled, but business went on. We took this experience into account when we adopted our new firm-wide international travel policy, by which we stimulate sustainable choices while also balancing business interests, convenience for the traveller, and costs. In short, we travel and fly less, we travel smarter and more sustainably, and if we need to take the plane, we make greener choices.

Our ambition is to reduce the CO2 emissions from our international travel by 50% by 2030 (compared to 2019). This reduction target is in line with the ambition of the Dutch Travel Different coalition. The most relevant measures are: 

  • we opt for videoconferencing instead of physical meetings where possible;
  • we travel by train instead of by plane for distances shorter than 700 kilometres; 
  • we minimise flying business class; and
  • we do not travel by plane for any NautaDutilh social events.

This is a ‘comply or explain’ policy. Exceptions need to be explicitly approved by the Board.

Other measures
In the Netherlands, we took measures to further reduce our waste. We installed a bio digester in our Amsterdam office, eliminating one full waste stream. In our Amsterdam and Rotterdam offices, we teamed up with our waste processor in recycling our paper cups and tissues into new tissues or toilet paper. We no longer distribute small bottles of mineral water during events and client meetings, but only offer tap water in reusable glass bottles.

Our Luxembourg office installed green boxes for discarding old office supplies and reusing them, and uses a composting system for all organic waste. By disabling automatic printing and changing paper quality from 80 to 75 grammes, we realised a reduction in paper consumption of 33%. We also realised a 23% reduction in energy use by inviting all colleagues to participate in our energy saving plan. Our Amsterdam Office is an active participant in the Zuidas Green Business Club. We took part inthe circular procurement accelerator training and the campaign Green Business Club Zuidas, for which businesses turn off their office lighting between 23:30 and 6:00. These are small measures that help us move forward. Sometimes, the bar is raised in incremental steps.

Further reductions in 2023
Our carbon reduction roadmap with firm-wide sustainability policies and office-specific implementation measures will be instrumental in realising our carbon footprint reduction ambitions. Our carbon footprint measurement shows how smart use of data can help to accelerate change. And since what gets measured gets done, we will continue to track the impact of our measures and make adjustments where required.

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