"Companies often hide an insufficient or partial treatment of the reality of carbon emissions"

“Companies often hide an insufficient or partial treatment of the reality of carbon emissions”

Legreenwashing most often results in vague promises from companies: reduction of emissions, planting of trees, etc. However, when these objectives are neither quantified nor defined within a realistic action horizon, they are not very engaging. All the more so if companies use their own impact calculation methods, because these, in the absence of an established and legitimate methodology, often hide an insufficient or partial treatment of the reality of carbon emissions.

Several factors may explain these inaccuracies. On the one hand, companies sometimes struggle to establish a coherent and quantified strategy, which is a source of errors or misleading proposals: poor quality of data provided by specialized agencies, lack of qualified experts, etc.

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On the other hand, while the financial information of asset managers and listed companies is indeed subject to the control of the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), companies do not have a legal obligation to communicate on their extra- financial only from a balance sheet of twenty million euros for listed companies and 100 million euros for unlisted companies.

A comprehensive review of measuring instruments

This leaves the necessary leeway for the companies concerned to publish only the information that suits them, misleading both consumers and investors, since the investment funds cannot obtain the data necessary for a rigorous selection. These communications are however necessary to demonstrate the concrete action of companies.

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In order to contribute to the decarbonisation of the economy, two instruments can indeed be used. On the one hand, the reduction of greenhouse gases, both direct and indirect, i.e. emitted upstream and downstream of the production chain, by integrating the company’s energy consumption (i.e. is the notion of emission scope). This implies acting on all stages of pollution, and not only on direct discharges, which often represent a small part of total emissions.

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On the other hand, “carbon sequestration”, ie the reduction of greenhouse gases by storing carbon in the ecosystem, often by planting trees. But these options only have an impact if they are combined. Indeed, carbon sequestration alone only has an effect in the long term, while the reduction of emissions still calls for offsetting them. Distrust, therefore, if a company mentions only one of these initiatives.

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