Home " Committing to a decarbonization strategy? " How to decarbonize a company's activities in relation to its sector of activity?

How to decarbonize a company's activities in relation to its business sector?


Companies have a vital role to play in the transition to a low-carbon economy, and each business sector presents specific challenges and unique opportunities for decarbonization.

By examining the specific characteristics of each, it will be possible to identify the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and consequently the most relevant levers for action.

Each company is in a position to implement a decarbonization policy tailored to its own business.

This publication highlights the specific features of each sector, and attempts to provide practical information and recommendations to help companies in their decarbonization process.

1. What is decarbonation?

1.1 Definition

1.2 Why decarbonize? What's at stake?

2. Implementing a decarbonization strategy by sector

2.1 Decarbonizing the construction industry

2.2 Decarbonizing agriculture

2.3 Decarbonizing transport

2.4 Decarbonizing digital technology

3. Decarbonize any industry with GCI

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What is decarbonation?

📝 Definition

Decarbonization refers to any measure aimed at reducing the GHG emissions of an organization, an area of activity, a community, etc. This approach is essential for the transition to a more environmentally-friendly economy and for mitigating the effects of climate change. This approach is essential for the transition to a more environmentally-friendly economy and for mitigating the effects of climate change.

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🌿 Why decarbonize? What's at stake?

Decarbonization is an essential step in a context where environmental issues are taking on a significant role in the concerns of citizens and consumers, and are increasingly becoming part of national and international regulations. These issues can be divided into three categories:

💯 Consumer and investor expectations

Environmental criteria are now an integral part of the factors influencing consumer choices. An eco-responsible product is preferred to one from a company that shows no commitment to the environment, and thus makes no significant contribution to climate change. This trend is also reflected among investors, for whom a company's sustainable growth is increasingly associated with its commitment to a low-carbon trajectory.

⚡ Energy security

To ensure their long-term survival, all companies should strive to move away from their dependence on fossil fuels. It's crucial to diversify energy supplies to cope with the risks associated with price volatility, geopolitical tensions and the growing scarcity of fossil fuels. It is imperative that they increase their use of renewable energies, such as solar and wind power, to anticipate these risks and remain competitive in the long term.

🌎 🇫🇷 Climate policy commitments in France and around the world

Climate issues are widely emphasized on a global scale, whether through international agreements such as the Paris Agreement, the various Conferences of the Parties (COP), or the Kyoto Protocol.

At national level, regulations such as the National Low-Carbon Strategy (SNBC), the Grenelle Law and the Climate and Resilience Law, to name but a few, have been put in place to frame the environmental challenges we face, as well as to impose the process of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

These regulations are set to become stricter and more numerous in the future: any business sector that emits CO2 must immediately embark on a decarbonization process in order to comply with the laws in force, and avoid the penalties of non-compliance.

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Implementing a decarbonization strategy by sector

It's essential to understand that not every sector can adopt the same decarbonization strategy. Indeed, each sector does not contribute uniformly to climate change, and their activities have different carbon footprints.

It is therefore necessary to carry out a specific carbon assessment for each sector, and to implement targeted actions adapted to their particularities. This tailor-made approach is a key step towards achieving significant results in decarbonization.

🏗️ Decarbonizing the construction industry

The secondary sector generates considerable CO2 emissions. For example, the building and public works sector plays a significant role at national level, accounting for 43% of France's annual energy consumption, and contributing 23% of the country's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This makes the building sector one of France's biggest GHG emitters.

What can be done to limit the environmental impact of the construction industry?

To help the industry and companies achieve carbon neutrality, the National Low-Carbon Strategy (SNBC) proposes 4 key levers:

🧱Renovation: via large-scale renovation of the building stock to achieve an average low-energy renovation performance (BBC renovation) of 100% by 2050.

💡The energy mix: the electrification of uses other than heating, the gradual phasing out of fossil fuels such as fuel oil, as well as improving the energy efficiency of all equipment, are actions that will significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the BTP.

🌿 Sobriety: the dissemination of technologies that reduce energy demand, bioclimatic building design that encourages optimal use of resources, and the adoption of virtuous individual behavior such as reducing heating temperatures, are also key measures to be implemented.

🏢 New construction: The RE2020 environmental regulations for new construction now require the mandatory integration of carbon criteria over the entire building life cycle, from design to deconstruction. These regulations aim to promote the design and construction of low-carbon buildings, by encouraging the use of sustainable materials, optimizing energy efficiency, and taking into account greenhouse gas emissions throughout the life of the building. By complying with these regulations, new buildings can make a significant contribution to reducing carbon emissions and to the transition to a more sustainable construction industry.

How to implement decarbonization within your company?

There are many actions you can take to apply different levers within your company. Here are just a few of them:

Carry out an in-depth assessment of your company's carbon footprint with a comprehensive GHG inventory®,

If possible, invest in renewable energy installations, such as solar panels for electricity generation, geothermal systems for heating and cooling, or harnessing wind power,

Promote the use of sustainable, low-carbon footprint building materials, such as certified wood, recycled materials, and eco-friendly coatings,

Partner with suppliers of sustainable materials and services.

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🌽 Decarbonizing Agriculture

CO2 emissions from the primary sector should not be overlooked either. In 2019, agriculture was responsible for 19% of France's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The various components of this sector's carbon footprint break down as follows:

🐮 Methane (CH4) emissions are mainly caused by livestock farming, notably enteric fermentation (the process of digesting animals) and animal waste.

🌱 Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions come mainly from crops, resulting from nitrogen inputs to cultivated soils, notably through the spreading of mineral and animal-based fertilizers.

🚜Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are the result of fossil fuel consumption in the agricultural sector, whether by farm machinery or farm buildings.

How can we limit the environmental impact of agriculture?

The SNBC proposes 6 orientations to decarbonize the agricultural sector:

➡️ Orientation A1: reduce direct and indirect emissions of N2O and CH4, using agro-ecology and precision agriculture.

➡️ Guideline A2: Reduce CO2 emissions linked to fossil fuel consumption and develop the use of renewable energies

➡️ Orientation A3: develop low-carbon energy production and the bioeconomy to help reduce France's CO2 emissions, and boost added value in the agricultural sector.

➡️ Guideline A4: halt and reverse the current loss of carbon from agricultural soils, in line with the "4p1000, soils for food security and climate" initiative.

➡️ Guideline A5: Influence demand and consumption in the agri-food sector in conjunction with the National Food and Nutrition Program (PNAN).

➡️ Guideline A6: Improve inventory and monitoring methodologies

The transition to sustainable agriculture, which respects the environment, avoids waste and minimizes the use of pesticides, is crucial to the successful decarbonization of the agricultural sector.

By adopting sustainable agricultural practices such as agroecology, for example, it is possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, preserve biodiversity and improve soil health. In addition, optimizing water use and recovering by-products help to avoid waste and promote efficient use of resources. This transition not only helps to reduce the carbon footprint, but also makes agriculture more resilient in the face of climate change and future challenges.

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🚚 Decarbonizing Transport

Reducing the GHG inventory® of service sector companies is essential. Indeed, the transport sector contributed 31% of France's GHG emissions in 2019, and is the country's biggest emitter. Thecarbon footprint of transportation was divided as follows in 2018:

🚗 Passenger cars 53

🚗 Commercial vehicles 19.1%

🚗 Heavy Goods Vehicles 21

🚗 Two wheels 1.3%

🚗 Non road 5.6%

To decarbonize this sector, the SNBC proposes the following guidelines:

➡️ Guideline T1: Provide the sector with incentive price signals

➡️ Guideline T2: Set clear, consistent targets for the energy transition of parks

➡️ Orientation T3: support fleet development for all modes of transport

➡️ Guideline T4: Support local authorities and businesses in setting up innovative initiatives

➡️ Guideline T5: Encourage modal shift by supporting active mobility and mass transit (freight and passengers) and developing intermodality.

➡️ Orientation T6 : Controlling the rise in demand for transport

Companies can implement various measures to comply with these guidelines, including :

✅ Establish a mobility plan: This involves helping employees to give preference to public transport, carpooling, and limiting the use of private cars. By encouraging more sustainable modes of travel, companies can reduce the carbon footprint associated with business travel.

✅ Adopt low-carbon impact vehicles: Companies can favor the use of electric, hybrid or low-carbon fuel-powered vehicles. This transition to a cleaner vehicle fleet helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

✅ Carrying out an appropriate carbon assessment: It is essential for transport companies to carry out a carbon assessment specific to their activities. This enables them to assess the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions and identify potential avenues for improvement. By understanding their carbon footprint, companies can implement strategies to reduce emissions and optimize their environmental performance.

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🖥️ Decarbonizing Digital

The digital sector accounts for 2.5% of greenhouse gas emissions in France. However, if no action is taken, it is estimated that its impact on the environment could rise to 7% by 2040. Consequently, it's imperative to take steps now to reduce the carbon footprint of digital activities to prevent this projection from becoming a reality. But how can we do this?

Anti-waste and circular economy law (AGEC)

The AGEC was enacted in response to these challenges and sets out provisions for :

➡️ Better informing and protecting consumers;

➡️ Extending the life of digital products ;

➡️ Oblige the State, local authorities and their groupings to integrate these issues into their purchasing policies.

What impact will this have on digital businesses?

The law is a first step towards ensuring that companies in the digital sector embark on an eco-responsible trajectory. It requires them to :

👉 Display a reparability index on certain electronic and electrical products,

👉 Extend the lifespan of their digital products by obliging manufacturers to supply spare parts for a minimum of 5 years,

👉 Promoting the circular economy,

👉 Etc.

There are a number of ways in which companies in the digital sector can get started on a low-carbon path:

✅ Implement recycling and reuse programs: by developing recycling initiatives for their electronic waste, as well as programs to encourage the reuse of end-of-life products.

✅ Combating programmed obsolescence by offering sustainable products: by offering quality, long-lasting products to reduce the need for frequent replacement.

✅ Integrate eco-design principles into the manufacture of their products: using recyclable materials, reducing energy consumption, minimizing waste generated, and taking into account environmental impact throughout the product life cycle.

✅Sensitize consumers to the carbon footprint of their products: through communication campaigns, energy labeling, information on product energy efficiency, and providing tips for responsible use.

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 Decarbonize any sector with GCI

The GCI solution is designed to be adapted to all business sectors, making it a versatile and relevant solution for all companies . Read our webinar on decarbonization and our guide to decarbonizing corporate purchasing.

By offering a variety of scenarios specific to each type of business, such as industry, services, the tertiary sector, events, logistics, real estate, agri-food, and many others, GCI covers all sectors of activity.

This flexibility enables users to tailor the solution to their specific needs, taking into account the particularities of their field of activity, but also to more easily take on the demanding step of collecting data and calculating the company's decarbonation.

GCI's network of Certified Experts also covers a very wide range of "business" expertise. This means that whatever the field in which your company operates, you can benefit from the advice and support of skilled experts who understand the specific challenges facing your sector.

The GCI calculator rigorously complies with the GHG Protocol, ISO 14064-1 and the Bilan Carbone method. It uses emission factors from several reference bases, such as

✅ ADEME's EMPREINTE database,

✅ BEIS (formerly UK DEFRA)

✅ EcoInvent and Inies optional

✅ Company suppliers' FEC (PCF according to Iso 14 067)

Its user-friendly interface and educational methodology enable users, even those with no specific knowledge of carbon accounting, to become self-sufficient in just a few hours. This enables everyone to carry out their GHG assessment in full compliance with current international norms, benchmarks and standards, measure their carbon footprint and reduce it to ensure the long-term viability of their business.

Carry out your company's carbon inventory with the CGI platform

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