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Useful definitions

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Paris Agreement: Adopted during COP21 in 2015, this is the first universal climate agreement. It sets a global objective to limit global warming "well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels". This target is based on the work of the IPCC and would require that global greenhouse gas emissions be cut by half by 2030 to be met.

Artificialization of soils: Transformation of natural or agricultural soils through development actions, which can lead to the loss of natural qualities that shelter a certain biodiversity, natural cycles and biogeochemical qualities.

Carbon footprint: The carbon footprint is a method of accounting for greenhouse gas emissions to assess direct or induced emissions from an activity or territory.

Un bilan carbone simple prend en compte les émissions de GES (gaz à effet de serre) des niveaux Scope 1 et Scope 2 tels qu’ils sont définis par les normes internationales (GHG Protocol et ISO 14069). Soit :

  • Scope 1 : total des émission directes générées par les ressources de la structure utilisant les énergies fossiles (gaz, pétrole, charbon, tourbe…)
  • Scope 2 : total des émissions indirectes liées à l’achat ou à la production d’énergie électrique

La loi Grenelle II de juillet 2010 impose un bilan dit Bilan GES Réglementaire à un certain nombre de structures et entités, qu’elles soient publiques ou privées.

Supply chain: The supply chain represents the entire system that enables the delivery of products or services from raw materials to end customers. This includes information flows, physical distribution and financial transactions. In other words, the supply chain refers to all the links in supply logistics: purchasing, inventory management, handling, storage, distribution, delivery...

Carbon compensation: carbon compensation consists in " compensating " its greenhouse gas emissions by financing projects that reduce or sequester emissions elsewhere (renewable energy projects, tree planting, etc.). This generally involves purchasing carbon credits (one carbon credit = 1 tonne of CO2 equivalent avoided) from a specialised operator (for more information you can read this very clear document from the French ADEME). Warning: carbon compensation therefore "does not cancel" the emissions released, it makes it possible to support projects that will capture or avoid CO2 in the future (when done properly!) Carbon compensation should only come in addition to an effective emissions reduction strategy, to compensate for emissions that cannot be avoided.

Product life cycle: The life cycle of a product includes all activities involved in the manufacture, use, transport and disposal of that product. The life cycle is generally illustrated as a series of stages, from production (extraction and harvesting of raw materials) to final disposal (disposal or recovery), including manufacturing, packaging, transport, household and industrial consumption and recycling or disposal. The life cycle analysis (LCA) of a product is the basis of eco-design.

Prospective approach: an approach aimed at assessing future developments in the world in the best possible way, with the aim of informing current decisions. It consists of carrying out diagnoses, developing scenarios and making recommendations in terms of public policies or corporate strategy.

Greenhouse gases: Greenhouse gases are the gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, whether natural or human in origin, that absorb and emit radiation at specific wavelengths in the spectrum of thermal infrared radiation emitted by the Earth's surface, by the atmosphere itself and by clouds. This property causes the greenhouse effect. Man-made greenhouse gases (emitted by human activity) include CO2 (carbon dioxide), CH4 (methane), N2O (nitrous oxide), halogenated hydrocarbons and other substances containing chlorine and bromine. Most greenhouse gas measurements are made in "CO2 equivalent", which is the main greenhouse gas emitted by humans.

Carbon neutrality: Balance between man-made greenhouse gas emissions and their removal from the atmosphere by man or by man: the difference between the emitted and extracted gases is then equal to zero. This notion is debatable since it can lead to carbon-neutral strategies that are not based on reducing greenhouse gas emissions but on their (hypothetical) removal from the atmosphere on a large scale. Thus, at the company level, carbon neutrality is generally based largely on emission compensation mechanisms.

Greenhouse gas emission reduction target in absolute terms: A quantified greenhouse gas emission reduction target for which the unit is not a ratio (emissions/other things). For example, the objective "to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 1000 teqCO2 to 500 teqCO2", or "to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50%" is an absolute objective. On the other hand, the objective of "reducing greenhouse gas emissions per € of turnover" is not an objective in absolute terms, as it is in the form of teqCO2/turnover. The same applies to the objective (frequently used in the aviation sector) of "reducing greenhouse gas emissions per kilometre travelled" (teqCO2/distance). What you have to keep in mind is that the climate doesn't care if you reduce the ratio teqCO2/turnover or teqCO2/distance or teqCO2/anything. The only thing that matters in terms of climate change is the absolute value of the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.

Extra-financial performance: Evaluation of the company's performance based on criteria other than its financial performance alone to integrate social and environmental criteria.

Internal carbon price: The carbon price is an economic tool designed to integrate (internalize) into market prices the hidden costs (externalities) of damage caused by greenhouse gas emissions, in order to guide economic agents' decisions towards low-carbon solutions. It can be set according to the price level existing on carbon markets, based on the tutelary value of carbon or according to criteria that are specific to the company. These carbon emissions can then be expressed as costs, which offers an advantage to less emitting projects.

Scope: When a greenhouse gas emission balance is carried out, three categories are distinguished: Scope 1 = direct emissions (i.e. directly related to the manufacture of the product); Scope 2 = indirect emissions related to energy consumption (i.e. due to the consumption of electricity, heat and steam used to manufacture the product); Scope 3 = other indirect emissions (supply, transport, use, end of life, etc.). Scope 3 emissions frequently represent 50% or more of total emissions.

Zero net loss of biodiversity: to achieve this objective, any biodiversity loss related to a project must be compensated through ecological compensation actions (environmental or species restoration work, protection operations, etc.). Like carbon offsetting, ecological offsetting must only be complementary to a real biodiversity strategy, following the following logic: avoid, reduce, compensate. Finally, it should not be forgotten that any loss of biodiversity is not "compensable": how to compensate for the disappearance of a species? Do 1000 1-year-old trees

10 key points
of the latest
IPCC report