Session 8

Carbon Neutrality & Greenwashing


Session 8 starts with the “Carbon Neutrality & Greenwashing” focus module explaining why it is impossible for companies & governments to be carbon neutral.

The Notebook lecture: Climate Strategy details simplified steps to build consistent and ambitious climate strategies for their Business Case.

Over the following workshops, students choose a CO2 pathway as a scenario, describe tangible daily behaviors in a low-carbon society, estimate market evolutions using the TCFD and build new value propositions compatible with low-carbon economies.

Course Outline

Carbon Neutrality & Greenwashing
Physical & Transition Risks

Key Learnings

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Carbon Neutral Companies = Greenwashing

Many companies claim to have reached carbon neutrality or to be close to doing so in the future:

On their products & services: AirFrance full activity flights, L'Oréal carbon neutral industrial sites, Volkswagen and Google carbon neutrality on all activities.

French Energy Agency Report

Individually or at their scale, economic actors, communities and citizens are not, nor can they become, or claim to be carbon neutral"

0 does not mean Carbon Neutrality

Carbon neutrality claims often come with several misleading techniques & assumptions:

They misuse the scientific definition of carbon neutrality while not reducing emissions, clearing the company of its responsibilities by cropping them, misusing carbon accounting and assuming unrealistic carbon capture capacities.

Carbon Neutrality demands Radical Changes

Carbon neutrality is to be applied only at a planetary scale: it is achieved when human CO2 removals balance human CO2 emissions at the global scale.

While human CO2 emissions keep increasing, human CO2 removals are insignificant. Reaching carbon neutrality requires us to:

  • Reduce emissions very quickly and drastically,
  • Develop human CO2 removals at a very large scale .

Product use: arbitrary CO2 assignation

Splitting the CO2 emissions from the usage of a product or service amongst people and companies is an arbitrary decision.

Value chain: arbitrary CO2 assignation

Splitting the CO2 emissions from the manufacture of a product amongst the companies in a value chain is an arbitrary decision.

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Student Projects

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Pedagogical Note