Carbon neutrality for companies, products and services does not exist!

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  • “Certified carbon-neutral brand”
  • “Climate-neutral product”
  • “CO2 neutral event”
  • “100% offset emissions”

The above are a pack of lies; they make no sense and are misleading. There’s a world of difference between what science says and the hijacking of a climatological concept for marketing purposes and flawed climate strategies.

We call on all the companies we read about and work with to refrain from making such claims.

A benchmark report has been published by the Net Zero Initiative (NZI), a project by specialist consultancy Carbone 4 supported by ADEME and the French Ministry of Ecological Transition. In it, you will find alternatives to the simplistic claims of “carbon neutrality” and “offsetting”.

A unique reference framework is available free of charge to help companies word themselves better and more accurately. More accurately means towards the only objective of carbon neutrality that makes sense: at the planetary scale and the level of national territory.

To put it simply: companies cannot claim to be carbon neutral, but they must contribute to achieving global carbon neutrality.

We invite all companies to explore this reference framework

To wrap up, we’d like to take a stand on 2 points:

1. On this type of subject, benchmarking the competition is the best way to go wrong.

If we at Picture are constantly sorting out, marking, and understanding what the competition is doing and which terms they are using, it becomes too much. We might feel the pressure to follow suit (although we won’t). If such a company becomes carbon-neutral, it should absolutely be carbon-neutral too. If not, if lying, that’s a bit embarrassing. Listen to what the experts say? The competitor is neutral, the message is getting across to consumers, and we don’t want to be left behind!

Consulting agencies offering miraculous “neutrality certificates” to satisfy their clients are just as responsible for this general confusion that leads to further vicious greenwashing. And let’s not forget that having a certificate gives a certain value in the eyes of consumers.

Perhaps it’s finally time to stand out from the crowd, to have a breakthrough, mature discourse, based on science, no? Marketing needs to question itself and be at the service of correctly communicating major ecological and social issues. In this context, we can only applaud the “consulting” promotion of the Convention des Entreprises pour le Climat (CEC), which brings together some twenty consulting agencies committed to transforming their practices to better support their customers.

2. The financing of low-carbon projects must intensify, not contract.

The greenwashing of certain companies have logically been denounced, but an undesirable rebound effect has also gained ground: everything is greenwashing. Any project that includes the words “plantations” and “trees” is bound to be labelled greenwashing.

Unfortunately, we’re going to have to look beyond these caricatures if we’re to make any headway. Between doing things badly and doing nothing, it’s easy to see that there’s a relevant middle ground to be found.

While we denounce misleading claims of carbon neutrality and offsetting, this does not mean that field projects should stop being funded. Quite the contrary. Companies need to step up their efforts and funding to help achieve carbon neutrality – contributing to global carbon neutrality, remember. There are several ways to do this, depending on your business sector and company size. Click here for a white paper (in French, again & again) on the proper use of carbon credits.

Well, if you make cargo bikes, it’s clear for you: the more you sell, the more you replace car use, which is pretty good for the goal of neutrality! If you make clothing, then…

So, what are we doing at Picture?

We support the Net Zero Initiative and are therefore very much in line with their guidelines.

We’re contributing to carbon neutrality in several ways, although we’re still fine-tuning certain mechanisms on our side, notably our internal carbon tax. Our article on the subject will be available soon, but in the meantime, you can check out this one.

See you soon!