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A complete guide to achieving carbon neutrality in the workplace

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In light of the latest IPCC report, carbon neutrality is an essential objective for companies in their fight against global warming, given the major impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the climate. To achieve this, it is essential toadopt a comprehensive and well-structured strategic approach. Here's a detailed guide to help companies establish a low-carbon strategy to make their own contribution to the global goal of carbon neutrality.

1. What is Carbon Neutrality?

1.1 Definition and challenges of carbon neutrality

1.2 Carbon neutrality: a framed term

2. Steps to help your company participate in global carbon neutrality

2.1 Assessing your carbon footprint with GHG inventory® (Carbon Footprint Assessment)

2.2 Reducing greenhouse gas emissions: effective strategies and measures

2.3 Offsetting residual emissions: carbon offset options and projects

3. Carbon neutrality: what framework?

3.1 Labels and certifications

3.2 Towards collective carbon neutrality: Net zero initiative

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What is Carbon Neutrality?

Carbon neutrality is a concept that is increasingly at the heart of environmental initiatives and commitments at global, corporate, governmental and organizational levels. But what does it actually mean?

📝 Definition and challenges of carbon neutrality

Carbon neutrality refers to a state where the greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activities are equivalent to the quantities captured or offset, so as not to increase the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In other words, it is a balance between greenhouse gas emissions and actions to reduce or eliminate them.

To achieve carbon neutrality, it is necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at source as much as possible, by adopting more sustainable practices and technologies. This includes measures such as energy efficiency, the use of clean energy sources, improved industrial processes, waste management, sustainable transport, etc.

⚠️Cependant, it is important to note that the goal of carbon neutrality does not automatically guarantee neutrality with regard to other greenhouse gases. Indeed, carbon neutrality focuses primarily on reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the main greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. However, CO2 is only one of the six greenhouse gases recognized by the Kyoto Protocol, the others being methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).

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📃 Carbon neutrality: a framed term

Around the world, many companies, governments, countries and organizations have committed to achieving carbon neutrality in order to reduce environmental impacts, promote sustainable development and combat climate change.

However, in order to prevent abuse and greenwashing, Article 12 of the Climate and Resilience Law has been put in place to regulate the use of the term "carbon neutrality" and guarantee full public information on carbon neutrality claims, while progressively reinforcing advertisers' commitments and combating greenwashing.

As of January 1, 2023, advertisers are therefore forbidden to state in their advertising that a product or service is "carbon neutral" without providing a complete assessment of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the product or service's life cycle, a planned trajectory for reducing these emissions, and the measures taken to offset residual emissions. This information must be easily accessible to the public and updated annually.

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Steps to help your company achieve global carbon neutrality

Here are a few key steps to achieve a "neutral" carbon footprint:

📊 Evaluate your carbon footprint with GHG inventory® (Carbon Footprint®)

Calculating your carbon footprint® , also known as your Carbon Inventory® , is essential to achieving carbon neutrality, as it enables you to measure and quantify the impact of your activities on greenhouse gas emissions. Here are a few reasons why calculating your carbon footprint® is important:

🌿 Understanding the carbon footprint: carrying out an accurate assessment of your organization's GHG emissions is the very beginning. It makes it possible to analyze the various sources of emissions, such as transport, energy use and waste management, and to identify the areas that contribute most to emissions.

🎯 Setting ambitious targets: thanks to your carbon footprint/inventory, set short- and long-term emissions reduction targets. These targets must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). Aim for carbon neutrality by offsetting residual emissions through offset/contribution programs.

📉 Developing a reduction strategy: establishing a solid emissions reduction plan is essential. To do this, identify concrete initiatives aimed at reducing your organization's emissions. Opt for renewable energy sources, improve the energy efficiency of your infrastructure, promote sustainable transportation practices and reduce your electricity consumption.

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📉Reducing greenhouse gas emissions: effective strategies and measures

Although the Bilan Carbone is the first step in reducing CO2 emissions, there are many other actions you can take to become carbon neutral:

🔌 Energy saving: implement measures to improve the energy efficiency of the organization's operations. This can include installing energy-saving equipment, optimizing heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, and raising employee awareness of responsible energy use.

⚡Use renewable energy: to reduce your carbon footprint, prioritize the use of renewable energy. Invest in clean energy to power company operations, and switch to green electricity from sources such as solar, wind, hydroelectric or geothermal power. This can be achieved by installing solar panels on building roofs, purchasing renewable energy from suppliers, or participating in green power purchasing programs. This will help reduce the emissions linked to your energy consumption.

♻️ Waste management: implement effective waste management policies, such as recycling, reuse and waste reduction. This can also include implementing composting programs and using sustainable packaging materials.

🔁Optimize the supply chain: work closely with suppliers to reduce the carbon footprint of the supply chain. This can include initiatives such as purchasing sustainable products and materials, reducing emissions linked to the transportation of goods, and promoting eco-responsible practices among suppliers.

✅ By including your suppliers in your carbon strategy, thanks to GCI's Décarbon'achats® service, you can extend the positive impact of your actions. Encourage them to adopt sustainable practices, measure the reality of their GHG emissions, and promote partnerships with less carbon-intensive suppliers.

🤝 Mobilize all players: engage your employees at all levels of the company. Encourage them to adopt individual actions in favor of carbon neutrality, such as using public transport or recycling.

📢 Monitoring and communicating progress: establish a regular monitoring system to measure the effectiveness of your emissions reduction actions. Communicate your results and targets to your stakeholders, including employees, customers and investors. Transparency and accountability are essential to maintaining the commitment to carbon neutrality.

The transition to carbon neutrality is a challenge, but also an opportunity to help protect the global climate. By implementing these actions, your organization can become a key player in this transition. Act now and make a difference by adopting concrete actions to achieve carbon neutrality.

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🌿Compensating for residual emissions: carbon offset options and projects

Complete elimination of all emissions may prove difficult. In such situations, it is advisable to use offset mechanisms and compensate for these residual emissions by investing in certified carbon offset projects, programs that reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere. These projects can include initiatives such as reforestation, carbon capture and storage via sinks, and renewable energy projects.

Carbon neutrality: what framework?

📚 Labels and certifications

There are several labels and certifications linked to carbon neutrality, designed to attest to an organization's efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and offset those it cannot eliminate. Here are some of the most common labels and certifications:

📗 The Label Bas-Carbone®: in collaboration with numerous partners, the Ministry of Ecological Transition has set up the Label Bas-Carbone® with the aim of supporting the achievement of France's greenhouse gas emission reduction targets by 2050.

📘The PAS 2060 Standard: this is a UK public specification that sets out the requirements for carbon neutrality and carbon neutrality claims. It assesses whether an organization has offset its emissions in accordance with specific criteria.

📕 The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS): this international standard verifies carbon emission reduction and offset projects. It ensures the transparency, integrity and credibility of the carbon credits generated by these projects.

However, it is important to note that these labels and standards vary in terms of rigor and international recognition. Some organizations may also choose to develop their own internal carbon neutrality initiatives, without adhering to specific labels.

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⚖️ Towards collective carbon neutrality: Net zero initiative

To help organizations make an effective contribution to carbon neutrality, Carbone 4 has introduced the "Net zero initiative". This initiative offers companies the opportunity to structure their climate actions in order to optimize their contribution to the goal of global carbon neutrality.

Carbon 4 neutrality Carbon emissions

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

Carbon offset projects