Decree on Carbon Offsetting and Carbon Neutrality of Products

September 28, 2022



Carbon neutrality
Grégoire Guirauden

Grégoire Guirauden

Chief Operations Officer

French offset law carbon credit, a National Low-Carbon Strategy

The National Low-Carbon Strategy (SNBC) is France's roadmap to combat climate change. It involves several actions, including the complete decarbonization of energy production by 2050. Achieving carbon neutrality requires a balance between carbon emissions and carbon absorption from the atmosphere through carbon sinks. To reach net-zero emissions, all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide must be offset by carbon sequestration.

The Role of France and the European Union in Combating Climate Change through this carbon credits offset law

According to the European Parliament's definition, carbon neutrality is "the balance between carbon emissions and carbon absorption from the atmosphere by carbon sinks." The challenge posed by carbon sinks is therefore clear. France has committed to nationally determined contributions (NDCs) with the UN and must meet the climate and energy targets set by the European Union for 2030 to reduce our carbon footprint.

To implement a comprehensive low-carbon strategy, France passed the decree on April 13, 2022, which outlines the rules for using terms related to carbon neutrality.

What is Decree No. 2022-539 of April 13, 2022, on Carbon Offsetting and Carbon Neutrality Claims?

What are the Carbon Neutrality Claims Covered?

This law, effective from January 1, 2023, is part of the measures implemented in the French national low-carbon strategy. It concerns all products and services, and any claims that include terms related to carbon neutrality and carbon footprint. Examples include:

  • Carbon neutral
  • 100% offset
  • Zero carbon footprint
  • Zero carbon
  • Or any equivalent wording!

It should be noted that, unlike the recommendations of ADEME and Carbone4, the law does not prohibit the use of these claims but regulates them.

Frameworks and Media Covered by Decree No. 2022-539 on Carbon Neutrality of Products

All advertising messages about carbon neutrality are concerned, across the entire "value chain" of marketing. Thus, the decree applies to messages on the following media:

  • Advertising prints
  • Public displays
  • Press, TV, cinema, radio, digital
  • Product packaging

Precise Criteria to Comply with Decree No. 2022-539 of April 13, 2022, on Carbon Offsetting and Carbon Neutrality Claims

Format of the report, frequency of updates, and access to comply with the carbon neutrality law and actively participate in achieving carbon neutrality:

The publication must include a generic report containing all information on measures implemented to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, along with three detailed annexes comprising the following information:

  1. Details on the carbon footprint
  2. Details on the reduction plan
  3. Details on the offsetting/contribution

To ensure proper commitment to achieving carbon neutrality, this report must be updated annually as long as the product or service is marketed with the carbon neutrality claim in the corresponding advertisement.

It is important to note that this annual update should verify a reduction trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions in line with the details presented in the reduction annex. If the product or service’s unit greenhouse gas emissions increase for two consecutive years, the advertiser must remove the carbon neutrality claim.

Easy access, such as via an internet link, must be provided to access the report and all annexes easily.

Conducting a Carbon Footprint Assessment to Comply with Decree No. 2022-539 on Carbon Neutrality

The product or service in question must undergo a greenhouse gas emissions assessment, following the NF EN ISO 14067 standard or any equivalent standard. In mainland France and overseas, the carbon footprint as prescribed by ADEME or the Association Bilan Carbone meets these criteria.

First step to achieving carbon neutrality, the carbon footprint must be updated annually, and the corresponding annex should include the following elements:

  • Results of the assessment
  • Methodology used
  • Scope chosen
  • Functional unit
  • System boundary
  • End-of-life treatment
  • Data used for electricity and gas consumption
  • Geographical areas of emissions
  • Details of international transport if relevant

Reducing the Carbon Footprint of the Product or Service to Comply with Decree No. 2022-539 on Carbon Neutrality

The section on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the report should present the emission reduction trajectory of the product or service in question, as well as the annual progress observed for at least the 10 years following the first claim and therefore the first report.

The trajectory should be updated at least every 5 years to track the evolution of the carbon neutrality strategy.

Purchasing Carbon Credits to Comply with Decree No. 2022-539 on Carbon Neutrality

Finally, the annex detailing the purchase of carbon credits and the offsetting or contribution of residual emissions must be outlined as follows:

  • Nature and description of projects to ensure their uniqueness
  • Carbon sinks generated by carbon credits are not all of the same quality, so it is important to consider the price criterion. The price of purchased carbon credits is divided into 3 categories:
    • Less than €10 per tCO2
    • Between €10 and €40 per tCO2
    • Greater than €40 per tCO2
  • Correspondence in terms of volume between residual emissions and purchased carbon credits
  • Proof of non-double counting (can be proven by purchasing carbon credits listed on a registry ensuring uniqueness)
  • Consistency between geographical areas of emissions and compensation
  • Proof that projects do not harm the preservation and restoration of natural ecosystems, thus constituting real carbon sinks

To display the mention "Offset in France" or equivalent, all projects must be located in France.

Compatibility of Riverse Carbon Credits with Decree No. 2022-539 of April 13, 2022, on Carbon Offsetting and Carbon Neutrality Claims

Here, we examine how the Riverse standard enables low-carbon projects to issue certified carbon credits and participate in carbon neutrality in alignment with this legislation.

Nature and Description of Projects to Achieve Carbon Neutrality

Each Riverse project is uniquely identifiable by a project holder, location, and specific description.

Carbon Credit Prices

Riverse carbon credit prices are clearly defined because, as mentioned, not all carbon sinks are equivalent. Furthermore, there is full transparency regarding the portion of value allocated to the project (between 90 and 95% of the carbon credit price) and the portion allocated to Riverse (between 5 and 10%), depending on the volume. All Riverse carbon credits fall into the two higher price categories.

Correspondence between Residual Emissions and Carbon Credit Volumes Purchased to offset:

To purchase certified Riverse carbon credits, one must meet the following criteria:

  • Have conducted a certified carbon footprint assessment
  • Present a trajectory for reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Have already reduced their carbon footprint

We then encourage buyers to finance projects via carbon credits at least to the level of their residual emissions.

Proof of Non-Double Counting

Through its registry and contractual agreements, Riverse ensures that certified projects do not count carbon credits twice for the same project. Additionally, the Riverse methodology guards against other risks of double counting.

Consistency between Emission and Compensation Geographical Areas

Riverse focuses solely on circular economy solutions in Europe. For French companies, for instance, we have numerous projects in France. Furthermore, Riverse goes beyond this approach by encouraging the purchase of carbon credits not only in the same geographical area but also in the same sector of activity.

Evidence that Projects Do Not Harm the Preservation and Restoration of Natural Ecosystems through offsetting

The Riverse methodology incorporates eligibility criteria to ensure these elements:

  • Do No Harm Principle: Ensures that projects do not cause significant harm to natural ecosystems.
  • Prevention of Rebound Effects: Prevents unintended consequences that could offset environmental gains.
  • Compatibility with Key Principles of the European Taxonomy: Projects adhere to the principles outlined in the European Taxonomy, ensuring alignment with sustainable development goals.

The Riverse certification goes even further by requiring contributions to two United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in addition to SDG 13 on combating climate change.

Projects in France with offsetting mentions

We have numerous projects in France, as well as in other European countries!

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