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Differences between GHG and Carbon Footprints


Following the 2015 Paris Agreement, the fight against climate change must be an integral part of all corporate strategies.
What does it stipulate?
➡️ It gives all countries the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

For this goal to be achievable, it is imperative that all organizations, businesses and communities alike, commit to initiatives aimed at reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

🌿 To achieve carbon neutrality, public and private organizations need to be aware of their carbon footprint. This refers to all the greenhouse gas emissions attributable to their activities, broken down into different categories of GHG emissions (Scopes 1, 2 and 3).

The need to assess their carbon footprint enables them to identify areas for improvement and implement concrete measures to reduce their GHG emissions.

🌡️ The most popular tool for carrying out this carbon inventory stage, and thus committing to a complete decarbonization strategy, is the greenhouse gas emissions inventory.

This assessment enables us to quantify and evaluate our emissions in a systematic way, by identifying the main sources of greenhouse gases and measuring their impact on the climate. This detailed assessment is then used to define specific strategies and actions aimed at reducing emissions and making its transition to carbon neutrality. 🎯

Before getting started on your carbon footprint, it's important to understand the methodological significance of a carbon footprint and a GHG footprint. Although they share a similar approach, i.e. accounting for the greenhouse gases emitted by a community or company as a result of its activities, there are a number of distinctive features that differentiate them.

In this article, we'll explore the specifics of the Bilan Carbone and Bilan GES, as well as the regulations surrounding them.

1. Different accounting perimeters

1.1. The three scopes of the carbon footprint

1.2. GHG assessment and regulations

2. A Balance Sheet leads to a decarbonization strategy

3. GCI, the platform that supports you in your choice of balance sheet

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Different accounting perimeters

The main difference between the Bilan Carbone and the Bilan GES lies in the definition of the emissions accounting perimeter.

🧑‍🏫 Defined even before the Paris Agreement by ADEME in 2004, Bilan Carbone is a methodology for quantifying greenhouse gas emissions for organizations. It takes into account all the greenhouse gases defined by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) for physical flows, and covers all scopes 1, 2 and 3 as defined by the GHG (Greenhouse Gas Protocol).

🎯 Bilan Carbone's three scopes

When we talk about scope 1, 2 and 3, we are talking about 3 different categories of emissions.

🌿 The first category, or scope 1, concerns emissions directly generated by the organization. This includes the combustion of fossil fuels in a car, for example, or refrigerant gas leaks from an air-conditioning system.

🌿🌿 The second category, or scope 2, involves accounting for so-called indirect emissions linked to the organization's energy consumption. In other words, the emissions generated by the production of electricity, steam, heat or cooling consumed.

🌿🌿🌿 Finally, the last category, or scope 3, concerns other emissions. A broader category and often more complex for companies to account for, it includes, for example, emissions linked to the production of vehicles, buildings owned or managed by the organization, transport of materials or waste generated.

The Bilan Carbone® method is coordinated and distributed by the Association Bilan CarboneⓇ, but remains closely linked to ADEME.

The Bilan Carbone® is the most comprehensive way of carrying out a greenhouse gas assessment. It is important to take into account all three scopes in order to identify all an organization's emission points.

⚠️ If all an organization's emission sources are not identified, the reduction of emissions will not be as effective, and will limit the impact of the benefits of such an assessment.

📝 The GHG balance sheet and regulations

The regulatory GHG inventory is an approach to accounting for greenhouse gas emissions, introduced and made mandatory by article 75 of law no. 2010-788 of July 12, 2010.

This obligation applies :

  • legal entities under private law with more than 500 employees,
  • for communities of over 50,000 inhabitants,
  • public establishments with more than 250 employees
  • and government departments.

🚫 Eligible companies are required to publish a GHG balance sheet every 4 years, and eligible local authorities and other legal entities governed by public law are required to update and publish their GHG balance sheet every 3 years.

Unlike the Bilan Carbone d'entreprise, companies are obliged to carry out a Bilan GES. However, to simplify matters, it does not involve the same reporting perimeter. Scopes 1 and 2 must be accounted for, while Scope 3 is only recommended.

This position makes it possible to carry out an initial assessment in a simplified way, but taking scope 3 into account will give any company that decides to account for it a better understanding of its GHG footprint. Not only that, but also a greater reduction potential.

A few years ago, the GHG Protocol raised the idea of a Scope 4, to enable the calculation of avoided emissions. Subsequently, various methodologies and international standards have addressed the subject.

➡️ The primary aim of a GHG or Carbon Footprint is not simply to account for a company's emissions. It also enables us to identify the most significant items. This approach will enable the implementation of a reduction action plan that will reduce the company's environmental impact, as well as generating substantial savings on energy costs.

Whether your company chooses to carry out a Carbon Footprint or a regulatory GHG Footprint, it will always find a substantial benefit.

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A Balance Sheet leads to a decarbonization strategy

Carrying out an assessment, whether it's a GHG inventory, involves accounting for emissions. It also means being able tocorrectly identify the levers for action to effectively reduce emissions.

The fight against global warming requires a global reduction in emissions. Accounting thus makes it possible to identify the quantity of emissions and to act on a specific point.

Thus on energy consumption, a consumption based on decarbonated energies such as renewable energies or nuclear energy will be preferred to fossil fuels.

Also some materials used are more carbonaceous and others could be used.

⚠️ These examples of reductions are not suitable for all companies, which is why it is important to carry out an assessment specific to your sector, enabling you to draw up a reduction action plan.

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GCI, the platform that accompanies you whatever your choice of assessment

Several calculators are available on the market. Some offer a simple regulatory analysis (of scopes 1 and 2) in Excel format, without assistance. Others offer a complete GHG balance sheet, along with actions to reduce the organization's emissions.

✅ The GCI platform offers a complete, fully digital, fully autonomous service thanks to numerous online aids and videos.

✅In addition to calculating and accounting for all an organization's emissions according to its sector of activity, the platform also offers tohelp companies define the emissions reductions needed to easily achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

✅ GCI enables you to define a low-carbon strategy, not only to reduce your emissions, but also to find ways of making a carbon contribution once your emissions are no longer reducible. The carbon contribution comes last! It consists of investing in projects that help the community make a positive environmental transition. This can range from reforestation to the development of new renewable or sustainable energies.

👍 Thanks to the GCI platform, you can intuitively carry out a complete GHG assessment according to the three scopes.

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