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Use of the « carbon neutrality » argument in communications

ADEME guidelines

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"Carbon neutral region", "certified carbon neutral brand", "climate neutral range", "zero carbon service", "lifetime carbon neutrality", "zero carbon product", "CO2 neutral event"... Arguments for carbon neutrality are multiplying in the communications of organisations.

ADEME emphasises that these arguments can deceive the public, slow down changes in behaviour and cause negative[…]  Plus de détails

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  • Format électronique

Fiche technique

Auteurs ADEME
Public(s) Entreprises et fédérations professionnelles
Thématique Développement durable
Collection Expertises
Date d'édition 2022/05
Nb. de pages 17 P
Format pdf/A4
Langue EN
Périmètre de publication National

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"Carbon neutral region", "certified carbon neutral brand", "climate neutral range", "zero carbon service", "lifetime carbon neutrality", "zero carbon product", "CO2 neutral event"... Arguments for carbon neutrality are multiplying in the communications of organisations.

ADEME emphasises that these arguments can deceive the public, slow down changes in behaviour and cause negative rebound effects. They also prevent us from highlighting stakeholders who show sincerity and are really committed to the climate. Finally, their use exposes organisations to risks of controversy and, soon, to legal risks.
Consequently, ADEME recommends that all stakeholders, from the private sector to the public and non-profit sector, engage in a responsible communication approach:

• get rid of the purely arithmetic approach to carbon neutrality and not focus their communication on the alleged carbon neutrality of their region, activity, product or service;
• communicate in a transparent, proportionate and distinct manner on the different levers contributing to collective carbon neutrality, in particular the massive reduction of their carbon footprint and the financing of offset projects.

This note is intended for all communication and marketing professionals who seek to promote the commitments of their structure in favour of the fight against climate change. Examples of formulations to be avoided and formulations recommended by ADEME, along with best practices, are proposed at the end of the document. Below is an example, for the case of a product or service communication.

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