Carbon neutrality, a reality or a scam?

According to the Agence de la Transition Ecologique (ADEME), “carbon neutrality” aims to counterbalance, on a global scale, all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from human activity by sequestering equivalent quantities of CO2, i.e. keeping them out of the atmosphere over the long term. In other words, it is a matter of sequestering as much carbon as we emit to stabilise its level of concentration in the atmosphere and thus limit the increase in the planet’s global temperature. 

The objective of carbon neutrality therefore only makes sense on a global scale. 

In line with the global objective of carbon neutrality, many actors are mobilising and wish to do their part: companies, territories, citizens, etc. There is an increasing amount of communication around this global objective, without a shared framework and without always understanding the ins and outs. Various interpretations of the term “carbon neutrality” are observed, often giving the illusion that an actor, a product or an activity would no longer have any impact on the climate. 

Individually or on their own scale, economic actors, local authorities and citizens who are committed to carbon neutrality are not, nor can they become, or claim to be, “carbon neutral“, which is meaningless on their own scale.

As explained by M. Jancovici, when a company declares itself “carbon neutral“, it does not mean that it has instantly put itself “outside the climate problem”. A company belongs to a value chain, in which all the links (suppliers, customers, partners, etc.) depend for instance on fossil fuel machines, or even deforestation, and therefore on CO2 emissions, whether these emissions are their property or not. The risk comes from the dependence, not from the ownership!

However, companies can enhance their contribution to this global objective through their respective actions. 

At Tapio we have mistaken some terms, concepts and wordings regarding “carbon neutrality” but thanks to institutions such as ADEME, Carbone 4, etc., which shed light on climate blurs, we were able to reconsider and adapt our strategy.

Indeed, as the ADEME explained, the sequestration potential of our forests, soils, etc., is not sufficient to balance the current and trend level of our emissions. It is therefore essential to adopt, as soon as possible, ambitious reduction strategies that will allow us to decarbonise our system while increasing the available carbon sinks.

We thus push our partners to implement actions in priority on their perimeter of responsibility, i.e. on which their activity induces a GHG impact and not to base their strategy solely on the financing of emission reduction or sequestration projects at third parties. 


What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

Within the macro area of the ecological transition, it is important to mention the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. This plan of action was signed in September 2015 by the General Assembly of the United Nations and came into force on January 1st, 2016. This Agenda has identified 17 objectives and 169 targets, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), towards which members states aim to end extreme poverty, and create a fairer, environmentally sustainable world (United Nations). Participants are thus called upon to change their approach with a view to achieving the targets by 2030. To track global progress towards the SDGs, a set of 230 indicators was adopted on March 11, 2017, by the UN Statistical Commission. These indicators, as defined at that time, are intended to serve as the primary basis for monitoring global progress towards the SDGs.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN

The commitment to these goals involves not only member states and their citizens but also companies, which make the pursuit of sustainable development objectives part of their corporate objectives. That way, businesses acknowledge the importance of their activities and the impact they have on society, thus actively participating in the change of the latter itself. These objectives and targets rapidly became a universal language for all types of institutions, governments, businesses all around the world, sharing common sustainability values, guidelines and commitments, and fighting for the same aims and results. Indeed, they offer a holistic framework for entities to contribute to their realization over the next 10 years.

As soon as Tapio was launched, driven by the urge to take action and support the UN’s initiative, the founders Louis Collinet and Nathan Clarke decided to integrate two sustainable development goals in their strategy and action plan, the most relevant ones to them and their business. Indeed, by allowing companies and people to take ownership of their CO2 emissions to reach carbon neutrality in an easy, user friendly and automated way, Tapio’s carbon management software answers to SDG 9Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation as well as to SDG 13Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

You have no idea which SDG your company could commit to? Or as an individual you would like to deep dive into one or several goals in particular ? Go have a look on the UN’s website and let yourself guide by your personal interests or your company’s core values.