We have an action plan that we review every year, after having done our carbon footprint. We present below the results of our carbon footprint of 2021.
84 tCO2e emitted in 2021, mainly for the procurement of goods and services
The 2021 carbon footprint assessment shows that I4CE emitted 84 tCO2e, equivalent to 2.7 tCO2e/year/employee.
This assessment covers most significant emission sources, from manufacturing and use of equipment through to communications, including building-related emissions and team meals as well as employee commuting and business travel. The total emissions are significantly higher than 2020, a year marked by Covid and lockdowns, but remains much lower than our pre-Covid emissions. We will detail that later. In the meantime, let’s look at what our main emission sources are.
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I4CE‘s emissions, are due in the first place, and by far (60%), to the services purchased by the institute. This category covers both the use of a service provider (graphic designer or lawyer, for example) and are calculated based on environmentally extended input output emission factors, which unfortunately have limited granularity, made available by ADEME and that convert spent euros into CO2e. This category is then followed by emissions related to purchased goods (11%) for day-to-day operations: paper, furniture, IT equipment, etc. The institute has put in place for several years a sustainable procurement policy, leading to the use of reconditioned equipment, and to the reduction as much as possible of unnecessary purchases.
Team meal emissions come third (9%). Emissions from meals were estimated based on a survey on employees’ meal constitution. The results show that 95% of the team follows a flexitarian diet, with a carbon impact 30% lower than a ‘regular’ meal according to ADEME. I4CE in fact systematically arranges for vegetarian meals for its internal events, and for external events, meals with a least one vegetarian option.
Emissions from the heating of our offices then follow (6.3%). I4CE moved into new offices in 2021, of which it holds tenancy, and that are heated by gas. The team made efforts to adapt their behaviour and consume less energy (they dress more warmly, and blankets are available), but further reducing our heating consumption will require more structural and collective responses, and will be a challenge for 2022.
Digital activities also are a significant emission source (6.1%). The quantification and the understanding of the orders of magnitude of our digital impact is a difficult task, and in 2021, I4CE contracted a specialised consultant to perform a comprehensive carbon footprint of our digital impact, get rid of misconceptions, and target the concrete actions that would be most useful. I4CEdoes not just sort emails: in addition to the repairing of our IT equipment and the purchasing of reconditioned equipment, we have developed a new website, sustainably designed. We plan for example as well on reducing the size of our videos prior to their online release, considering the significant impact of video in our digital uses.
When it comes to our travel, emissions related to our business travel represent 2.1% of total emissions. The relatively small part they represent of our footprint, despite activity retake and in person events in 2021, reflects our policy favouring train use. Emissions from employee commuting represent 0.3% and are the lowest emission category of our footprint.
Our emission trends
How have our emissions changed between 2021 and 2019, the year of our first carbon footprint assessment? They have dropped significantly, by 20%. But let’s be cautious: the scope of our carbon footprint has since expanded, and to make such a comparison we had to recalculate – with necessarily questionable assumptions – our 2019 emissions. In any case, we can state without too much doubt that our emissions are falling, considerably, in any case much faster than French emissions for example.
If we compare our 2021 emissions to those of the previous year, then their evolution is similar to French and global emissions: a significant rebound in 2021, a year of “return to normal” after the Covid period. Our emissions amount to 84 tCO2e in 2021 compared to 66 tCO2e in 2020.
Where does this rebound come from? First and foremost, the increase in our workforce, and consequently in our activity. Emissions per employee did not change much between 2020 and 2021: they rose from 2.5 to 2.7tCO2e/FTE (Full Time Equivalent), and the number of FTEs rose from 26 to 31. This has led to the sharp increase in emissions linked to the procurement of goods and services (+28%), and requires us to (further) strengthen our sustainable procurement policy. Especially since, on closer look, this is not really a rebound but rather a structural growth: our team will continue to grow in the coming years.
The increase in our emissions also comes from the move into new offices in April 2021. We now rent offices that are heated with gas, and the emissions from this source have logically increased. New actions will need to be undertaken to reduce gas consumption: in the short term, the institute plans on using a thermostat to be able to control the heating temperature more easily. This move also has its virtues: we can now directly access our energy consumption data and have been able to choose a renewable electricity provider, Enercoop, for our electricity contract.
Contrary to what we could have expected, emissions from business travel have continued to decrease even after lockdowns were lifted, and despite the fact travel resumed and events started to be organised in person again and the increase in I4CE’s international activities. How is that? Thanks to the train, which has now become the standard travel mean. Our rule: no airplane if an alternative by train of less than 6 hours exists. The I4CE team travelled more than twice around the world by train in 2021. As for emissions from employee commuting, these have increased, with the end of mandatory work from home, but remain the smallest source of emissions in our footprint.
I4CE’s climate action plan
I4CE committed, since 2019, to carbon neutrality, to set an example, out of conviction, and to face the actual transition issues. An internal working group was established to define an emissions reduction action plan, to undertake each year a carbon footprint assessment of the institute and therefore to assess our progress and to suggest new actions. You may find below all actions undertaken to date by I4CE. This emissions reduction plan will be completed by an adaptation plan to climate change impacts.
- For business trips: no airplane in France, nor abroad if an alternative by train of less than 6 hours exists. Some long-distance travel will remain necessary for the work of I4CE, especially as the institute becomes more international. Videoconferences between international partners are already preferred and will be used increasingly. When a trip is necessary, it will be optimized, like the trips to the Conference of Parties (COP), during which I4CE employees attend multiple workshops and conferences, to avoid having multiple trips. When travelling is unavoidable, I4CE foresees the offsetting of its emissions for the year 2021 and upcoming years through the financing of certified low-carbon projects.
- For employee commuting: the institute encourages employees to use public transport by reimbursing the Navigo pass above the legal minimum (70%). Furthermore, I4CE has implemented the sustainable mobility package even before the adoption of the decree of the new Mobility Orientation Law (LOM), to promote low-carbon transport such as cycling. To date, this package is still not mandatory for companies. I4CE also finances home-to-work train travel for long-distance telecommuters.
2) Building / energy
- In April 2021, I4CE moved premises: as tenant of our offices, a renewable energy supplier has now been chosen, Enercoop.
- These new offices are heated by natural gas, which is a significant source of emissions in our 2021 carbon footprint. To limit emissions related to natural gas combustion, the institute already plans on installing a central heating thermostat to control heating intensity more easily and reduce natural gas consumption.
- I4CE allows employees to telework in Ile-de-France or in other French cities, depending on their contract. This way of working allows using our premises in flex-office, i.e. by allocating the working spaces in a dynamic way according to use and not by having nominative offices, thus maximising office occupancy, not to consume useless surface area. The ADEME details a methodology to account for the rebound effect of telecommuting, according to which flex-office use more than offsets the impacts from increased transportation use, and the use of additional resources for home-based work.
3) IT / digital / web
- IT: The institute’s computers are all reconditioned computers. I4CE favours repairing over replacing IT equipment where possible. Since 2022, I4CE purchases also reconditioned phones for its employees and gives the choice of using a business phone in addition to a personal phone or of using one double sim phone to avoid use of multiple phones.
- In 2022, I4CE revamped its website to have a sustainably designed website starting from 22 July 2022. When comparing the emissions generated by the home page of the old website with those of the new website for example, a total of 250 kgCO2e of emissions are avoided per year.
- In 2021, we contracted a consultant specializing in the carbon footprint of digital activities and services to better assess our emissions in this area. In addition to the use of reconditioned devices and the development of a new sustainably designed website, the team has been trained in digital impact reduction, and the weight of videos before they are put online will now reduced.
4) Suppliers – I4CE favours as much as possible suppliers with environmental and social clauses.
- Office cleaning: I4CE chose a cleaning service provider with an ISO14001 environmental management certification and a AFAQ EI social management certification. The cleaning products used are not harmful to the environment and waste is sorted every day
- Catering: for the internal events organised by I4CE , all meals are 100% vegetarian. For external events organised by I4CE , at least one vegetarian option is offered by caterers.
- Printing: I4CE has been working with the printer label Imprim’vert for several years now, a label that aims at reducing the environmental impacts linked to printing activities. In addition, the institute follows a just-in-time printing approach, to limit printing to what is strictly necessary. In addition, all I4CE publications are available on the institute’s website and can be consulted online.
5) Contribution to the national climate efforts
Despite all the achievable efforts today and tomorrow, I4CE’s carbon footprint will never be zero. The reduction of our emissions is the priority. Deep decarbonisation is the objective, but we have to admit that we still emit and that in the future we will certainly have incompressible emissions. The institute is therefore committed to contributing to the global effort of greenhouse gas emission reduction by financing certified projects, on French soil, commensurate with its emissions. It will use the Label Bas-Carbone (the French Low-Carbon Standard) for this purpose. Should this be defined as offsetting? I4CE prefers to use the term contribution because for us, the financing of projects does not cancel I4CE’s carbon footprint.
1 FTE (Full-Time Equivalent) = 1 full-time employee over the year.