Net Zero Initiative by Carbone 4 and Riverse carbon credits

October 11, 2022



Carbon footprint
Grégoire Guirauden

Grégoire Guirauden

Chief Operations Officer

What is the Net Zero Initiative by Carbone 4?

What is the Carbone 4 consulting firm and what is their role?

Carbone 4 is a consulting firm specializing in energy and climate issues. It is a key player in France, assisting numerous companies in their transition and adaptation to climate change. Carbone 4 provides reference guides such as the Net Zero Initiative and the OCARA method (a framework for analyzing corporate resilience).

wind net zero

Taking into account the scientific community's forecasts regarding global warming, the consulting firm Carbone 4 was founded in 2007 by Jean-Marc Jancovici and Alain Grandjean. Its name refers to the goal set by the National Low-Carbon Strategy to reduce French emissions by a factor of four by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels). Carbone 4's vision encompasses the following four key areas to take action for the climate:

  1. Climate change and resource scarcity are massively disrupting societies.
  2. The coming years are decisive for future climate scenarios.
  3. Companies must transform now, integrating energy-climate issues, to exist and succeed in the future.
  4. The challenges require a profound transformation that goes beyond a mere marginal change in the societal model.
stop the water for net zero

What is the Net Zero Initiative by Carbone 4?

The Net Zero Initiative, whose first component was published in April 2020, is a collaborative project led by Carbone 4 in partnership with ADEME, a high-quality scientific advisory board, and several pioneering major companies.

The goal of this project led by Carbone 4 is to provide a framework that enables organizations to contribute to collective carbon neutrality. Following the publication of the first report, the term "contribution to collective carbon neutrality" replaced "carbon offsetting" in common vocabulary. The Net Zero Initiative offers a unique framework to guide the private sector's actions towards the only carbon neutrality goal that makes sense: that of the planet and the national territory

The Net Zero Initiative is therefore intended for any virtuous organization wishing to effectively engage in the transition to a low-carbon and resilient world.

What are the recommendations of the Net Zero Initiative for combating climate change?

A company has three levers around which to structure its climate strategy.

Pillar A of the Net Zero Initiative: Reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions

Carbone 4's action plan to combat global warming under Pillar A includes the following steps:

  1. Measure direct emissions (Scope 1 & 2) and indirect emissions (Scope 3) following the recommendations of ADEME or the ISO14064/14069 standards.
  2. Set reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement (for example, via the Net Zero Protocol of SBTi).
  3. Reduce emissions as much as possible (see the ACT method developed by ADEME).

Pillar B of the Net Zero Initiative: Reducing the GHG emissions of others

The 3 components of Pillar B of the Net Zero Initiative by Carbone 4:

Contribution of its products and services to global Net Zero:

This involves a company measuring the avoided emissions enabled by its marketed products or services to incorporate them into its Net Zero strategy. The calculation of avoided emissions must be reliable, potentially based on a comparative Life Cycle Analysis (ISO 14040 standard), and should differentiate between minor reductions and significant emission reductions.

Contribution of its investments to global Net Zero:

This involves valuing the avoided emissions enabled by the organization's investments. This valuation can be achieved through Climate Dividends, particularly promoted by Time For The Planet.

Financial contribution outside its value chain, for example through carbon credits:

This consists of financing additional reduction/avoidance projects outside its value chain. This can be done through the purchase of carbon credits, direct financing of projects, or the purchase of certain energy savings certificates (ESCs). Reporting should include the amount of avoided emissions from these projects, the total amount of financing, and the cost per ton of CO2 avoided by the projects.

wind net zero carbone 4

Characteristics regarding avoided emissions of the Net Zero Initiative:

It should be noted that according to Carbone 4, avoided emissions must also meet the following criteria:

  1. Compatibility with the 1.5°C target: Solutions should be described in relation to the AR6 report by Working Group III of the IPCC, the European Taxonomy, etc.
  2. Non-preservation of an activity incompatible with 1.5°C: The solution must not support the long-term continuation of an activity incompatible with the 1.5°C target.
  3. "Do no significant harm": The solution must not cause significant harm to indicators other than the climate.
  4. Implement a dynamic calculation that considers the evolution of the baseline scenario over time.
  5. Ensure regulatory additionality and compliance with the baseline scenario.

Details on carbon credits according to Carbone 4:

  • They must be tangibly real, verifiable, credible, and additional.
  • The organization should not claim ownership of the carbon gain (compensation) but rather speak of contributing to collective carbon neutrality by claiming its financing.

Pillar C of the Net Zero Initiative: Increasing carbon sinks

Pillar C established by Carbone 4 to combat climate change includes three components:

  1. Direct absorptions: Develop its own carbon sinks within its activity (e.g., planting forests or hedges on its own land, producing biochar and storing it in the soil).
  2. Indirect absorptions: Develop carbon sinks with its suppliers or customers (e.g., promoting agroforestry among suppliers for a food industry player).
  3. Absorptions through financing sequestration projects: Finance projects via certified carbon credits ensuring the viability and permanence of carbon sequestration.
dashboards net zero

How are Riverse certified carbon credits compatible with the Net Zero Initiative by Carbone 4?

We take all the elements of the Net Zero Initiative by Carbone 4 and examine how the Riverse standard enables low-carbon projects to issue certified carbon credits aligned with this framework.

Contribution strategy to collective carbon neutrality through carbon credits:

Any organization wishing to purchase Riverse carbon credits must, during the purchase process, prove the following elements:

  1. Measurement of the carbon footprint (Scope 1, 2, 3) performed according to a reference standard: GHG Protocol, ADEME Carbon Footprint.
  2. Defined a net-zero trajectory in accordance with the Paris Agreement (+1.5°C).
  3. Already demonstrating concrete evidence of GHG emissions reduction.

Indeed, the alignment with the recommendations of the NZI is logical since this document is part of the reference reports used during the creation of the Riverse standard.

plant and wind for net zero

Valuation of avoided emissions with carbon credits

Riverse methodologies are developed based on analyses of reference documents such as the latest IPCC report, the National Low-Carbon Strategy, and the European Taxonomy. The principle of "Do No Significant Harm" is a key eligibility criterion for Riverse. Additionally, it is specified that every project must also meet at least two of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in addition to Goal 13 (Climate Action).

The baseline scenario is reviewed at least every five years, and annually in cases of significant change.

Certified, real, verified, credible, and additional carbon credits

Every Riverse carbon credit must meet the 15 eligibility criteria of the methodological specifications:

  1. Reality
  2. Measurability of the value chain
  3. Additionality
  4. Permanence
  5. Risk of non-delivery
  6. Co-benefits
  7. Do No Harm Principles
  8. Prevention against Leakage
  9. Prevention against rebound effects
  10. Technology Readiness Level (TRL) above 6
  11. Alignment with sectoral and geographical targets
  12. Minimal quantitative impact
  13. Effective substitution
  14. Waste and by-product management of the value chain

Carbon credits for reduced increase, reduction, and sequestration

Riverse segments certified carbon credits into three categories:

  1. Avoidance or reduced increase carbon credits, such as those for the regeneration of automotive components.
  2. Reduction carbon credits, such as those for improving the recycling of plastic that would normally be incinerated.
  3. Sequestration carbon credits, such as the production of biochar or supporting other low-carbon businesses.

Want to learn more? Feel free to schedule a meeting with me!