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Decarb Story | De Lijn


From our seat at the BACA secretariat we bear witness to inspiring decarbonization stories on a daily basis. Every month, we single out one original story from one of our members that happens upon our radar.

Here's the decarb story of De Lijn brought to us by its Manager of Strategy, Bert Van Hemelen.

What Science Based emission reduction Target does De Lijn want to reach, and what is your general approach towards reaching it?

Bert: De Lijn joined BACA since its launch in October 2020. Since then, we have successfully parcoured the Science Based Target trajectory. Validated (by SBTi) end 2022, our reduction targets cover emissions throughout our value chain. By 2030, these targets should have translated into

  • a 46.2% reduction of direct emissions from buildings and transport (scope 1)
  • 100% renewable electricity sourcing (scope 2)
  • a 46.2% reduction of indirect emissions from purchased goods and services, fuel and energy related activities, business travel and employee commuting (scope 3)

Bert: Developing and reaching science-based targets, together with other sustainability measures, hasn’t always been an easy process, but we are getting there. In fact, sustainability has today become our most important strategic driver.

Our current sustainability strategy is the result of both bottom-up initiatives and management-induced action. Active engagement from employees is crucial to make any operational strategy work; that is as long as a solid framework is in place. In this context, the SBT methodology is an important incentive.

What is the most impactful and/or original CO2 reduction measure you implemented?

Bert: The lion’s share of De Lijn’s emissions (92%) is due to direct emissions from our buses (47,7% from our own buses, 44,5% from operator buses). So, to drastically reduce emissions within scope 1, we need to shift from diesel buses towards battery electric buses.

We started a vast project to enable this shift by 2035. In involves not only 2.600 battery electric buses, but also the installation of the necessary charge equipment in all the depots across Flanders. The main challenge for the moment is getting in them place, especially the provisioning of the electricity.

What about the emissions indirectly originating within your value chain, the famous Scope 3 emissions?

Bert: We are also the first link in a gigantic value chain. About half of our scope 3 emissions originate 'upstream' - that is: from extracting, producing and transporting the fuels consumed. This applies to both ourselves and to our operators. Reducing fuel consumption is therefore hugely important.

Next to our major project to shift to a full electric bus fleet by 2035 - we are in the process of applying a code of conduct for our suppliers. This is to ensure that they operate along the same ambition levels as we do, in terms of climate and sustainability at large. Today, the code of conduct has already been integrated in all new contracts with sub-contracters. But there is still some work to be done...

Thank you for sharing, Bert!

Do you have a decarbonization story to share of which you think it might inspire others? An emission reduction measure that yielded impressive results? Or have you been experimenting with a measure that – when replicated by others – could significantly bring down you sector’s carbon footprint?