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Our carbon footprint and our climate commitments

I4CE is part of the approach launched by Labos 1point5 to reduce the environmental footprint of research activities. Since 2019, the Institute has committed to publishing its own carbon footprint every year. This is an opportunity to find out how much I4CE emits and where the Institutes greenhouse gas emissions come from. A clear understanding of this carbon footprint is also a prerequisite for action. It is then a question of using this carbon assessment to structure a dynamic plan to reduce emissions. For example, the Institute has committed to stop flying if a low-carbon alternative exists that takes less than 6 hours. 

The result of the assessment 

The last carbon assessment carried out by I4CE shows that the Institute emitted 66 tCO2e in 2020. 

This assessment covers all areas of the Institute from manufacturing through to communications, the scope of this assessment includes the use of equipment, building and staff resourcing as well as travel of its employees (see illustration below on the scope of analysis). In relation to the number of employees, I4CE emits 2.6 tCO2e/year/FTE [1]. In comparison, the average annual carbon footprint of a French person is 11.5 tCO2e. 

The main emission items

In 2020, I4CE‘s highest emissions, by far, came from the services purchased by the Institute (70%). This category covers both the use of a service provider (graphic designer or lawyer, for example) and the various purchases necessary for day-to-day operations (paper, press subscriptions, etc.). The carbon emissions of this item are estimated using several monetary ratios recommended by ADEME, which converts the euros spent into CO2e in order to estimate the emissions induced by these services.

In second place, team meals emit the most emissions (9%).

Team meals were estimated from an internal survey on the composition of meals (meat, vegetarian, vegan, etc.). The results show that more than 2/3 of the team’s meals are flexitarian, with a carbon impact estimated to be 30% lower than what is considered a ‘classic’ meal according to the ADEME carbon base.

As for the digital sector, this item as a whole (videoconferencing, emails, equipment) accounts for 7.1% of the balance sheet, a significant part of the Institute’s emissions.

The dynamics 

Unsurprisingly, the 2020 report is much lower than the 2019 report (43 tCO2e less, for the same number of FTEs). This decrease can be explained primarily by the reduction in air travels numbers due to the global pandemic. Another significant explanation is that I4CE organised almost no face-to-face events in 2020, so emissions related to this type of service have dropped. This decrease is not compensated by the increase in emissions from the digital division [2]. 

Our commitments 

Since the launch of the Institute’s first reported carbon footprint, an internal working group has been set up to devise actions to reduce I4CE‘s emissions and to regularly assess the progress made. Here are the actions undertaken by the Institute to reduce the carbon footprint: 

  1. Transport

     a. 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. Web-conferences between international partners are already preferred and will beused 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 apply these principles, the I4CE team will set up a procedure, well in advance of a long-distance trip, to help everyone evaluate its necessity and the possible alternatives. 

     b. For home-work trips:theInstitute 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 and to include cycling. To date, this package is still not mandatory for companies. 

     c. As a result of the global pandemic, telecommuting has been facilitated for all employees to access it.

 2. Energy: electricity

     a. At the beginning of 2021, I4CE moved premises: as tenant of our offices, a renewable energy supplier can now be chosen.

 3. Suppliers and purchases – I4CE favors the suppliers with environmental and social clauses as much as possible. 

     a. Digital: in its purchasing policy,for several years,I4CE has favoured the purchase of second-hand and reconditioned objects. Thus, the Institute’s computer park is entirely made up of reconditioned computers. 

     b. Caterers: for the eventsorganisedby I4CE, at least one vegetarian option is offered by caterers. 

     c. Printing:for a long time, I4CE has worked with the printer label Imprim’vert [3], a label whose objective is to reduce the environmental impacts linked to the printing activities. 

 4. Contribution to the national climate effort

     a. Despiteall the achievable efforts bothtoday and tomorrow, the carbon balance of I4CE 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 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by financing certified projects, on French soil, in line with its emission targets. It will use the Low Carbon Label for this purpose. Should this be defined as compensation? I4CE prefers to use the term contribution because for us, the financing of projects does not cancel the carbon footprint of I4CE. 

[1] 1 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) = 1 full time employee over the year. 

[2] As the teleworking measures linked to the health context have largely modified our way of working, we have improved the methodology for calculating our carbon footprint to take these changes into account. See in particular: https://librairie.ademe.fr/mobilite-et-transport/3776-caracterisation-des-effets-rebond-induits-par-le-teletravail.html. 

[3] http://www.imprimvert.fr/page/1/Accueil