While the Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on society and on PostNL, in 2020 we continued to focus on working towards our environmental goals.
In September, we published our first Green Bond Report, which provides investors and other interested parties with an update on the green projects we've funded using proceeds from the Bond. It also outlines planned investments, the majority of which will consist of electrification of our fleet and investments in sustainable buildings. The report is published on our website.
In 2020 we were again ranked in the top-three sustainable companies worldwide in the transport and logistics sector by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI). This benchmark evaluates listed companies on economic, social and environmental transparency and performance. On the environmental dimension we were ranked as best in our sector worldwide. We also achieved an 'A' score in the CDP benchmark, a global environmental disclosure system. This is the best score a company can get, demonstrating the strong improvements we are making in environmental management.
The sharp rise in parcel volumes particularly influenced the number of kilometres we travelled with large trucks, which are our most carbon-intensive vehicles. We also chose to increase the share of our own transport kilometres compared to subcontracted kilometres, Transporting more ourselves enables us to better manage our fuel consumption through initiatives such as economical driving, which is more difficult to achieve through outsourced transport. Together, these factors led to a 28% increase in kilometres driven.
At the same time, the Covid-19 measures impacted the availability of electric vehicles that conform to our specifications, and the pace at which we could implement other emission-reduction initiatives. These slowed the progress of our emission-reduction programme. These factors negatively impacted our company-wide CO2 efficiency, which was partly offset by the growth in the number of emission-free kilometres and the introduction of renewable diesel at material scale in our transport.
Our CO2 efficiency over 2020 amounted to 249 grammes per kilometre, 1.6% higher than 2019 and 10% higher than our base year 2017. Going forward, we will focus on improving our CO2 efficiency through the continued use of renewable diesel and the roll out of additional e-vehicles.
Our science-based targets (SBTs) are the cornerstone of our sustainability agenda towards 2030, with 2017 as the base year, and they are set as:
absolute CO2 improvement from our own operations (scope 1 and 2) of 60%;
absolute CO2 improvement from our overall operations (including scope 3) of 18%; and
relative improvement from our own (scope 1 and 2) operations of 80% per kilometre driven.
Year ended at 31 December
CO2 efficiency improvement (base year 2017)
CO2 efficiency (in g/km)
Our absolute gross scope 1 carbon emissions were similar to 2019 at 40 kilotonnes. The volume growth at Parcels and our logistic networks resulted in an increase in the number of kilometres we drove and related emissions by 6 kilotonnes. This was offset by a decrease in CO2 from our buildings as we started to renewably source our natural gas. In our environmental planning we expected an increase due to growth in transport, and developed a concrete action plan for the coming years to reduce our absolute carbon footprint, while still factoring in business growth. Since installing solar panels on the roofs of our sorting centres, we now generate a substantial amount of renewable electricity. The electricity we do source is also sustainably generated, resulting in our scope 2 emissions being reported as zero.
Year ended at 31 December
Scope 1 GHG emissions (including compensation for building CO2)
Scope 2 GHG emissions
Subtotal scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions
Scope 3 GHG emissions
Total GHG emissions
For subcontracted transport, our scope 3 emissions relate to networks within Parcels, logistics and international. Strong growth across these networks has impacted scope 3 emissions. In total, our scope 3 emissions increased by 6% compared to 2019. Compared to our base year 2017, these emissions were 6% lower.
While we started engaging with partners on emission-reduction initiatives, we expect to further develop reduction plans with our partners in the coming years. Our combined scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions in relation to SBT amount to 237 kilotonnes in 2020, 8% higher than 2019 and 1% lower than our base year.
Although our carbon footprint and relative CO2 emissions increased in 2020, we started to see the results of our strategy execution throughout the year. The introduction of renewable diesel and bio-LNG is becoming visible in the underlying performance of individual networks. We have budgeted for a significant scale up of the use of renewable fuels where possible. This will be our main focus for 2021 in order to improve our performance compared to 2020, which is why we have set a 2021 target for our CO2 efficiency of 205 grammes per kilometre.
One example is our large truck transport, which operate for both mail and parcel volumes. We will scale up the use of renewable fuels to more than 30% of our total fuel demand (2020: around 10%). We also continue to engage with automotive partners to develop electric delivery vans and other vehicles suitable for our business model in order to increase the pace of the transition towards emission-free transport. In line with our long-term planning, we expect to scale up the share of electric vehicles in our fleet in the coming 3 to 5 years .
At the same time, we will begin testing light electric freight vehicles (LEFV) for our core parcels delivery and evaluate the economic feasibility of potential adaptations to parts of our parcel delivery model. We already have extensive experience with electric cargo bikes at our time-bound network for business customers, and the delivery and collection of mail and parcels. In addition, we continue to pursue other opportunities we see to improve, in line with the focus areas of our environmental strategy. Using the monthly management dashboards, we will closely monitor performance against our targets based on the main drivers that influence our emissions.
As a large logistics and postal service provider, delivering to every address in the Netherlands and Belgium, our environmental impact on climate change and local air quality is substantial. This is why we are reinforcing our sustainability commitment by steering on our ambitious targets to significantly reduce our GHG emissions and deliver all parcels and mail emission-free across the Benelux by 2030.
Despite volume growth at Parcels in the Benelux, we managed to slightly improve the share of emission-free kilometres in the last-mile, where we have been able to absorb most of the additional parcel volumes in our current delivery routes. The number of kilometres travelled in our time-bound network grew because of the volume growth. We also had limited opportunities to add electric vehicles to our fleet in Parcels and logistics, due to the scarcity of vehicles that fit our requirements, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. At Mail in the Netherlands, emission-free delivery kilometres grew as result of the integration of Sannd volumes and the increase in greeting cards and mailbox gifts. Combined, we increased the share of emission-free delivery by 1%.
Year ended at 31 December
Share of emission-free delivery of parcels and mail in the last-mile (Benelux)
We steer on our strategy through our relevant focus areas, as explained in the 'Our strategy' chapter. In this chapter we explain how our focus areas help us achieve our strategic objective, which is to improve our environmental impact. For each focus area we provide examples that illustrate the events, initiatives and related outputs that contributed to our performance.