Net Zero Initiative – Diving into the Net Zero Initiative Guidelines

2 April 2020

The Net Zero Initiative, led by Carbone 4 along with a dozen of pioneer companies and a high-level Scientific Committee, releases its guidelines for organizations to contribute to the global net-zero.

This document suggests adopting a common language to all the stakeholders willing to manage their climate action in a sincere, transparent and constructive way, with the aim of reaching net-zero emissions worldwide, while being consistent with the existing tools and methods.

Now is the time for action ; and to make a more efficient use of it, all the stakeholders need to agree on the same priorities, the same concepts, and the same time horizon.


The Net Zero Initiative provides organizations with a way to describe and organize their climate action to maximize their contribution within achieving global carbon neutrality.

The framework is based on several key principles:

1. The word “carbon neutrality” (or “net zero”) refers only to the global goal of balancing the emissions and removals. It does not apply to an organization.

2.Organizations can only contribute to the trajectory towards global carbon neutrality.

3. Emission reductions and negative emissions (also called “removals”) are rigorously distinguished and counted separately.

4. The concept of “contribution to global neutrality” is broadened to include the marketing of low-carbon products and services. “Avoided emissions” are separated into two groups: those that correspond to a real absolute decrease in the level of emissions, and those that provide only a “smaller increase” compared to the initial situation.

5. Carbon finance can trigger avoided or negative emissions, but it cannot “cancel” the company’s operational emissions; it has to have a separate account for this.


The framework is based on the idea that an organization must, at its level, act in three complementary ways in order to contribute to global neutrality:

In order to contribute to the global reduction in emissions, it must:

1. Reduce its direct and indirect emissions

2. Reduce the emissions of others:
– By marketing low-carbon solutions (under certain conditions)
– By financing low-carbon projects outside of its value chain

In order to contribute to the increase in global removals, it must:

3. Improve carbon sinks:

-By developing carbon removals within its operations and in its value chain
-By financing carbon sequestration projects outside its value chain


The three pillars, A/Reducing its emissions ; B/ Reducing other’s emisisons ; C/ Developing carbon sinks, must be conducted at the same time. They are distinct from one another: neither additional, nor substractable.

Each company is then encouraged to:

1. Measure its performance on these three pillars;
2. Set ambitious objectives for each of them;
3. Manage them dynamically over time.


AUTHOR : César Dugast (Carbone 4)


Carbone 4 : Renaud Bettin, Alexandre Florentin, Luc Bachelet, Stéphane Amant, Alexandre Joly, Marion Moneuse

Scientific Council : Olivier Boucher (Institut Pierre-Simon- Laplace), Richard Baron (European Climate Foundation / 2050 Pathways), Anne Bringault (Réseau Action Climat France), Benoît Leguet (I4CE), Michel Colombier (IDDRI), Dimitar Nikov (Ministère de la Transition Écologique et Solidaire), Marion Verles (SustainCERT / The Gold Standard), Minh Cuong Le Quan (Staterre), Alain Grandjean (Carbone 4 / FNH), Jean-Marc Jancovici (Carbone 4 / The Shift Project)

Enterprises : Christine Faure-Fedigan (ENGIE), Thibaud Brac de la Perrière (EDF), Philippe Tuzzolino (Groupe Orange), Jean- Manuel Canet (Groupe Orange), Marie-Thérèse Durand (Poste Immo), Dang Tran (Poste Immo), Sophia Garcia (Remade), Aurélia Menacer (Groupe RATP), François Garreau (Generali), Élodie Bressaud (Groupe BPCE), Christian Le Seach (Groupe BPCE), Nathalie Pons (Havas), Aurélien Painchaud (Havas), Sébastien Nunes (ClimateSeed)

Other contributors : Gilles Dufrasne (Carbon Market Watch), Julia Grimault (I4CE), Claudine Foucherot (I4CE), Gabriella Cevallos (I4CE), Yann Briand (IDDRI), Augustin Fragnière (UNIL)

Design : Théo Girard (Carbone 4)

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