Why is it important to calculate your company's carbon footprint dynamically?

Being up to standard is good, gaining overall performance in the long term is visionary

Internationally, standards have been developed since 1998 (ISO 14064, ISO 14069, GHG Protocol, etc.). They provide the methodological framework necessary for the deployment of measures to combat climate change. At the European level, the green taxonomy aims to transform the European economy. Why do we link performance to the notion of footprint? Because times are changing, standards are changing and because linking ecological and digital transition through sustainable transformation is strategic. The underlying question is probably: what kind of performance are we talking about? We are talking about ESG performance. This international acronym is used by the financial community to designate Environmental, Social and Governance criteria. These criteria also relate to employer branding, employee engagement, cost reduction and optimization, but also communication about your corporate responsibility (CSR). By adopting the right mindset upstream and anticipating future regulations, the continuous improvement approach allows you to be part of long cycles.

A runner crosses the finish line thanks to the impact measurement carried out with the fruggr tool

Different criteria to take into account before carrying out a carbon assessment

You may be wondering how to evaluate the quality of a GHG or carbon footprint tool. How to choose it?

There are different approaches and methods for carrying out a carbon assessment and it is sometimes difficult to find your way around.

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There are different types of carbon footprint characteristics:


The global footprint :

This is an audit that assesses the greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions of your entire business over a given period of time (usually 1 year). This type of carbon footprint takes into account GHG emissions from buildings, transport and equipment. In France, there are two different methods for assessing GHG emissions: the Bilan Carbone method (ADEME) and the GHG Protocol (international). However, it does not necessarily take into account the measurement of the digital footprint, or only in a very approximate way.

The global digital carbon footprint :

This is a so-called static and macroscopic evaluation method. It is a tedious evaluation to carry out, with data collection in the form of an equipment inventory. It is a photo of the past (balance sheet) that does not allow for the development of a roadmap for improving the footprint.

LCA of digital services: :

LCA stands for environmental life cycle assessment. This approach is much more precise than the previous ones. Indeed, it takes into account all emissions from manufacturing to recycling through use. It includes direct and indirect emissions (scope 3, see below), whereas previous methods only take into account your direct emissions. This approach is done on a sample of functional units (for example, editing a pay slip). A manual LCA will therefore have a different use and will be complementary to a static carbon assessment.

The dynamic assessment of digital services :

This is the most advanced method. The approach consists in performing a simplified LCA of all digital services. This measurement will be done on the 3 layers: terminal, network and server. This includes direct and indirect emissions. It is therefore a global and precise method that also allows to set up an improvement plan. The dynamic carbon footprint is the next generation of digital footprint measurement, because it allows you to design and implement a real strategy.

The dynamic, global and responsible ESG report: :

This assessment paints a picture of your digital footprint according to various parameters (not only environmental: accessibility, inclusion, ethics and governance). It makes recommendations on various KPIs in order to establish a measurable CSR strategy that can be continuously improved. This is the most complete digital footprint assessment that addresses the company's challenges over time.

The support-advisory :

The support and consulting dimension can be the key to the success of your responsible digital strategy. Indeed, a tool does not do everything. Measurement remains complex and some indicators require expertise to draw up the right balance sheet. This expertise is still too rare and the choice of a firm with proven skills is essential.

Why include IT in your carbon footprint and what are the challenges and constraints?

Digital environmental pollution:

The different parameters to take into account

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What is digital pollution ? :

We are talking about the contribution of digital technology to climate change. It corresponds to more than 4% of the world's carbon equivalent emissions (more than the civil aviation sector) and to a little more than 2% of the national pollution in France. The digital sector requires a lot of energy and equipment to operate, from our terminals to the data centers. It induces a growing footprint in terms of GHG but also water consumption, resources...

What criteria are taken into account in the notion of digital pollution? :

Digital has an impact on the environment, the economy, the social and the political. However, when we talk about digital pollution, we are often only talking about emissions of the main greenhouse gases and environmental pollution. Most of the pollution comes from the manufacturing phase of digital equipment. Our smartphones contain no less than 50 metals that had to be extracted, transported and assembled around the world before reaching our hands. Our uses also have an impact, due to the exponential growth in the number of users. Our use of the Internet, email, smartphones, streaming videos, social networks, has an impact on the amount of data that passes through and is stored, leading to the growth of datacenters. The trap of digital technology is that it is transparent and easy to use, but behind it there are very real facilities and the associated impacts. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Digital environmental pollution can be assessed through different approaches :

- Environmental impacts broader than carbon (metals, rare earths, water consumption) - A multi-stage approach: life cycle with manufacture/use/end of life of the equipment - A multi-component approach: terminals/networks/data center

Measurement for continuous improvement 

Scope 1, 2 and 3 ?

Scope 3 measures the various indirect emissions in your value chain.

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Scopes

Societal issues

Illectronism, accessibility and digital inclusion

There is also social and economic pollution, which the Senate translates in particular by the illectronisme (difficulty to access to the digital by its competences) and the digital fracture (difficulty of access to the digital for material reasons and illectronism).

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17% of the French population is concerned by illectronism according to the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE). In the world, nearly 40% of the population has never used the Internet according to a report of the United Nations. This is because there are barriers to accessibility and inclusion, whether in terms of technological and physical access or digital literacy, language or affordability. The 2020 pandemic has shown us that digital technology, designed, and used in a sober, ethical, and sustainable way, can help us better adapt to climate change. Digital inclusion considers the different criteria to ensure that the web is designed for all. In the digital domain, it is a user-centered (re)evolution. From a design point of view, it is a step forward in improving the customer journey.

Regulation 

Ecodesign, sobriety, digital sovereignty, inclusion, accessibility standards ...

There are a certain number of eco-design, accessibility and personal data processing standards. How to find your way around?

In 2010, the law called "national commitment for the environment" aimed at the generalization of GHG emissions assessment for some public and private actors. In 2015, the Law on Energy Transition for Green Growth has evolved the previous one, adding the notion of periodicity (increased from 3 to 4 years for companies and to 3 years for the public sector). Since 2016, a fine of up to 1,500 euros is provided for to punish failures to establish this balance sheet. Then, in 2019, the law on energy and climate increases this penalty to 10 000, or up to 20 000 euros (if repeated). All carbon footprints established since 2016 are required to be published on an IT platform administered by ADEME. However, there are no requirements for the digital part, which is addressed in a variable way by the organizations in their carbon footprint.


Repairability Index

Why go beyond regulation ? 

Being a good student or a forward thinker?

The legislative framework will very quickly become more restrictive, so it is advisable to be ahead of the curve in your approach to eco-design, sobriety and digital accessibility.

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Current regulations are limited to Scope 1 and 2 (i.e. direct emissions) and for local authorities, to the scale of their assets and skills. For companies, ESG finance standards will be increasingly oriented towards green finance. CSR is now an integral part of strategy and reputation. It is now a question of making finance a long-term process. The carbon footprint methodology is a first step in GHG accounting in order to become aware of the impact of the emissions of its activity.

The regulations already recommend taking Scope 3 into account and having a more global and territorial approach. It is therefore entirely appropriate to measure all of its emissions in order to move towards a more responsible capitalism. In a voluntary approach, there are several international standards, which can help organizations to create more sustainable objects or services, such as ISO standards.

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