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Do you want to understand the world of carbon offsetting? 

Since this mechanism is still young, certain terms such as compensation, the low-carbon label, carbon neutrality, seem vague and complex. They are, however, essential for any new player in this market. Carbonapp offers you a list of the most useful definitions to finally navigate.

Emissions recognition audit: “inspection” phase that precedes Certification of Emissions Reductions. It consists of verifying that the Emission Reductions are real and in accordance with the Project Monitoring plan. It is carried out by an independent auditor to guarantee an objective view of the Project.


The Authority: administration which examines requests for the labeling of Projects. It guarantees the proper functioning of the Low-Carbon Label. It is an offshoot of the DGEC (Directorate General for Energy and Climate) and is represented by the Ministry of Ecological Transition and the DREAL (Regional Directorates for the Environment, Planning and Housing).


The Beneficiary: person who finances all or part of the Project and who is, as such, allocated the corresponding quantity of Carbon Credits generated by the latter once the Reductions in GHG emissions have been certified by the Low-Carbon Label.

Carbon footprint: Calculation tool developed by ADEME which helps to count its own GHG emissions. This tool is accessible to all and raises awareness of climate change. It is used and recognized internationally by the vast majority of public and private actors. In addition, it is often part of extra-financial reports, mandatory for large companies (> 500 employees).

Certification of Emissions Reductions: phase preceding the generation of Carbon Credits. An independent auditor will, after verification, certify that the Project has made it possible to avoid GHG emissions. As part of the Low-Carbon Label, it is the Authority that certifies the Project. Before certification, we will only talk about the estimated CO2 equivalent tonnage.


Voluntary carbon offsetting: voluntary offsetting allows an actor (company, individual, etc.) not subject to a legal regulatory obligation to contribute to the collective effort by voluntarily purchasing Carbon Credits.

Carbonapp:  Voluntary carbon offset operator. The company intervenes on 3 points: it supports companies and communities that wish to offset their greenhouse gas emissions, by financing local projects that sequester or avoid carbon. An expert in the field of the low-carbon label, the company also helps project leaders obtain their labeling, while finding them financing. Finally, it participates in the development of the carbon offsetting mechanism by submitting methods eligible for LBC such as the " WEEE valuation" method developed jointly with Carbone4 .

Carbon compensation:  Mechanism that allows organizations that emit greenhouse gases to finance ecological projects that sequester or avoid carbon. The objective for the organization is to offset its so-called residual (or incompressible) emissions, in other words emissions that could not be avoided or reduced at source. To know more :  Some questions about carbon offsetting.

Carbon contribution:  Its meaning varies according to the actors, but the notion of contribution often replaces that of compensation. Contributing to the climate effort encourages the organization to go as far as possible in its commitment to fight against global warming.  To know more :  Carbon offset or contribution? Some definitions.

Carbon credits: on the carbon markets, a carbon credit represents one tonne of CO2 equivalent, the emission of which has been avoided or sequestered thanks to a project implemented in a territory. There are two types of carbon credit: ex ante credits which correspond to emissions that will be avoided and ex post credits which correspond to savings that have already been achieved.


Project Duration: period during which the emission reductions made are recorded, i.e. 5 years. Under the Low Carbon Label, avoided emissions are recorded over 5 years, while sequestration can be anticipated over a longer period. The addition of the two representing the overall CO2 equivalent tonnage of the project. The issuance recognition audit must take place during this period.

Sustainable development :  Transition to better environmental, social and economic practices. It comes down to using current resources properly, meeting individual needs without compromising those of future generations. Recently, sustainable development has evolved and places the environmental aspect at the heart of its philosophy, to which the other two pillars are added.

Avoided emissions:  Lower carbon emissions thanks to the development of a sustainable project. In order to prove the real avoidance of emissions, the Low Carbon Label method proposes to consider a reference scenario where nothing has been achieved. If the emissions from the project are below the emissions generated by the baseline scenario, then they are considered to have been avoided.

Carbon footprint :  Indicator representing the carbon impact of a studied perimeter on the environment. It can be national as well as individual and should not be confused with the environmental footprint which widens the impact to all other environmental subjects. For a country, the carbon footprint includes 3 points: the teqCO2 emitted by households, by national production and by imported products.

CO2 equivalent (CO2eq): The CO2 equivalent is the unit of measurement taking into account all GHGs. Some GHGs have a heavier impact on the climate than others. To be able to compare gases with each other, scientists decided to use a basic standard whose reference is CO2. So, for example, 1kg of methane (CH4) is approximately equivalent to 21kg of CO2. The unit is often measured in kilograms or tons.

Avoiding, reducing, compensating for its carbon (ERC approach): Method applied after having carried out its carbon balance. For an organization, it is divided into 3 inseparable and simultaneous stages: we limit our activities without reducing productivity, it is avoidance. Then, we reduce our emissions by modifying and improving certain practices. Compensate or Contribute is the last step, and only concerns emissions that could not be avoided or reduced.

Low-carbon project financier:  Named Beneficiary within the meaning of the Low Carbon Label: Organization seeking to offset its emissions on a voluntary basis, to participate in the climate effort. In order to achieve a balance, it can buy the carbon credits generated by projects labeled by the LBC. Everyone can contribute, company, local authority, association or even individual. The funder therefore becomes a full player in the project, which he can support and follow throughout the process.

Low-Carbon Label:  It is the only French voluntary carbon offset scheme. Created by the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, in conjunction with the Institute of the Economy for the Climate (I4CE) and many partners, the low-carbon Label aims to contribute to the achievement of the climate objectives of France. It sets up an innovative and transparent framework offering financing prospects for French projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It thus makes it possible to support the ecological transition at the territorial level, by rewarding virtuous behavior going beyond usual practices. It certifies Emissions Reductions produced by projects, which will be purchased by contributors. Once purchased, carbon credits cannot be resold, in order to avoid speculation. To know more :  Where is the low-carbon label?

Greenhouse gas emissions allowance market (ETS): Emissions allowance trading mechanism imposed on the largest European greenhouse gas emitters. The largest carbon market in the world, it obliges companies to buy and resell allowances according to their level of emissions. If these are too high, the company must buy emission rights. Conversely, if it is below its imposed ceiling, it can resell the emissions it has been able to "avoid" in the form of quotas. This concerns compulsory carbon offsetting, which is very different from voluntary carbon offsetting through the Low Carbon Label, which concerns many more players.

Mechanism  of clean development (CDM):  Device developed during the Kyoto Protocol which allows signatory countries to finance or set up sustainable projects in developing countries. In exchange for contributing to these emission reduction projects, the investor receives carbon credits. It is an international carbon offset mechanism. More information: The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) .

Low-carbon method: Method for calculating GHG emission reductions published by the Ministry of Ecological and Inclusive Transition, and used by project leaders to constitute the labeling file. For a project to be certified by the low-carbon label, it must comply with a method validated by the Ministry of Ecological and Inclusive Transition beforehand. It concerns all sectors and can be submitted by any actor (companies, State, communities, associations, individuals ...). The validation time of a method takes about 18 months. To find the list of low-carbon methods:  List of new methods certified by the Low Carbon Label .


Joint implementation (JI):  Mechanism created during the Kyoto Protocol which aims to motivate so-called "developed" countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by not financing emission reduction projects in emerging countries but in countries already industrialized. This flexibility mechanism is closely linked to the CDM, which specializes in financing practices in the countries of the southern hemisphere. The advantage of the JI is threefold: it is environmental, social and above all economic because it facilitates interdependencies between countries. For further information: The Joint Implementation Mechanism (JI) .

Net carbon neutrality: Objective that is achieved when the quantity of GHG emissions generated in a territory is offset by the absorption of the same quantity of carbon, thanks to carbon sinks. For a country to be carbon neutral, it must store or absorb the equivalent of the carbon tonnage it has emitted. Carbon neutrality is only appreciable at the national or international level. This neutrality does not make sense at the level of a company or a community. They can only contribute to national or international neutrality.

Carbon offset project leader:  Any natural or legal person, acting on their own behalf or on behalf of a third party, at the initiative of a project whose aim is to generate reductions in GHG emissions which will be labeled by the Low-Carbon Label.

Low-carbon project:  Initiative to reduce GHG emissions. These emission reductions are intended to be certified by the Low-Carbon Label. These carbon credits will be resold to a purchaser who wishes to offset his carbon emissions.

Kyoto Protocol: Protocol validated in 1997 and implemented in 2005. Its objective was to provide solutions for reducing certain greenhouse gases in the world. Expired in 2012 and then extended until 2020, its goal was to participate in the ecological transition by reducing global emissions of 6 GHGs by 5% compared to 1990. It is this protocol that set up carbon offsetting systems on a global scale, the CDM and the JI.

Global warming :  Climate change on a planetary scale, which results in an increase in the average temperature at the earth's surface. Although there have been changes in temperatures over millennia, the recent changes are largely due to human activity, mostly due to the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere. Each year, the IPCC monitors and studies these variations, makes forecasts and proposes actions.

Reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions:  Quantities of GHGs sequestered by a project or whose emission has been avoided. They also include the emission reductions made, calculated scientifically during the duration of the project, and the anticipated emission reductions, which will be achieved after the duration of the project. All these reductions are subject to certification.

Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD +):  Defined as "Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation", this initiative motivates many actors (States, companies, NGOs, international institutions, etc.) to  participate in the preservation of forests in emerging countries. These tropical countries receive funding for their changes in practices through the carbon market, which can influence them to protect their forests.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR):  Taking into account the practices to be adopted in order to integrate social, environmental and economic issues into its activities. Beyond these initiatives, CSR encourages the redefinition of the values specific to the organization. Defined by the European Commission, it is adopted by a large number of French companies, and is now becoming almost essential on the markets. Indeed, it is popularizing at the same speed as the national and international awareness linked to sustainable development.

National Low-Carbon Strategy 2050 (SNBC): Approach launched by the French government in 2015 (then revised in 2019) to achieve the country's carbon neutrality by 2050. Beyond this measure, the SNBC also aims to reduce the carbon footprint of the French as much as possible, in order to mitigate large-scale climate change. It is aimed at all players in France (companies, communities, citizens, etc.) and is updated every 5 years.

Carbon storage:  Capture of carbon present in the atmosphere in soils. To be considered a carbon sink, it must trap more carbon than it releases. This capture can be natural or industrial. In each of the two cases, the human being aware of environmental issues seeks to enrich carbon sinks or to increase their number. There are a multitude of sinks: forests, oceans, soils, certain microalgae.

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