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Decarbonization of mobility: a new strategic issue for companies

A woman walking with a bicycle

Climate change comes from greenhouse gas emissions generated by people. We are collectively committed by the Paris Agreements from 2015 to limit the global warming to 1.5°C, and therefore to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. In recent years, decarbonization issue has become increasingly present in public debates and business strategies.

A standardized method was implemented, so that we are all equipped with the same tool measuring our current greenhouse gas emissions and keeping track of them over the years: The « scopes ».

Three scopes were created to categorize the greenhouse gas emissions by the type of a given company’s activity:

  • The scope 1 corresponds to greenhouse gas emissions directly linked to a company’s activity, such as fuel consumption by the company’s vehicles or heating in the company’s facilities.

  • The scope 2 are indirect emissions from the use of the electricity bill paid by the company as part of the manufacturing process.

  • The scope 3 included all the other indirect emissions related to the company’s activity, such as those from the use of products or services purchased by the company or the travel of its employees.

Measuring greenhouse gas emissions on different scopes allows the company to understand its environmental impact, identify the major polluting sources, and target the most effective strategies and actions to decrease them. The carbon footprint (“bilan carbone” in French), developed by ADEME (the French Agency for Ecological Transition) is the most common method in France to measure greenhouse gas emissions. It is now mandatory for:

  • Companies with more than 500 employees

  • Public institutions with more than 250 agents

  • Local authorities with more than 50,000 inhabitants

Since January 2022, companies with over 500 employees must integrate significant and indirect emissions in their greenhouse gas emissions balance, mostly coming from scope 3, those not directly related to the company’s activity but which have an impact on its carbon footprint. And often, employees’ travel carries weight. How to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to employees’ mobility while suggesting sustainable and doable alternatives?

| The significant part of transportation sector

One of the main greenhouse gas emissions sources is the transportation sector, and specifically the road, which represents approximately 30% of the French emissions. Furthermore, the 2022 barometer "Mobility & companies" from Alphabet France shows that 75% of French workers drive a car to work. Not to mention that internal combustion vehicles also represent a double threat because they impact the air quality in cities.

Reaching our decarbonization goals requires reducing the distance travelled by vehicles. Many solutions are available: public transportation, ride-sharing, electric-assisted bicycles, electric cars. Companies also offer incentives, such as covering part of an employee's transportation costs to encourage the transition to cleaner mobility. Bicycle journeys can be partially compensated and there are several motions to change the LOM law (Mobility Orientation Law) to offer a mileage allowance for employees walking to work.

Despite the multiplication of solutions, the transportation mode and the itinerary of an employee is often dictated by a mission, places of activity, journeys’ length, chain movements, financial means, etc.

For example, a service company whose scope 3 represents approximately 75% of CO2 emissions. The mobility of employees is often the main source of scope 3 emissions for these companies, which must manage the daily itinerary of their employees to deliver their services. It is therefore important to estimate precisely the carbon balance of these journeys and put in place solutions to reduce it: new sectorization, new mode of transport, new schedule, etc. Decarbonization goes through a deeper restructuring of the organization, a transformation of practices and uses.

Neovya Daily Commute screenshot

Neovya Daily Commute: Current annual carbon footprint and carbon footprint in an optimal situation

| Several calculation methods

Two approaches exist to evaluate a company’s emissions: The “monetary” and “physical” approach. Even if their objective is similar, the fundamental difference is the operational mode.

Firstly, we have the “monetary” approach, which aims at converting money into GHG emissions thanks to monetary ratios such as kilograms of CO2 equivalent per euro (kg CO2eq/€). This estimates the carbon footprint of a product or service based on its price. The "monetary" approach has the advantage of simplicity, but it remains very uncertain due to the great diversity of the company's underlying activities.

Secondly, we have the "physical" approach, which rates the CO2 emissions based on a company's physical realities. This method is based on emission factors to convert a company's data into CO2 emissions. The "physical" approach is often more technical to implement, but it provides a more consolidated view and insight into cause-and-effect mechanisms. It is the most relevant approach to act.

| Adaptative software

Carbon accounting is a way of measuring and tracking a company's carbon footprint, which is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases produced by the company. This carbon footprint can be calculated by measuring the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the company's activities, such as energy production, employee’s travel, etc. Carbon accounting can be used to help companies reducing their carbon footprint and achieving environmental goals.

Today, there are platforms that rate within seconds the greenhouse gas emissions generated by companies. From a company's itinerary data, precise calculations determine the company's carbon balance for a specific period. For a fleet manager, this presents many advantages. In addition to identifying CO2 emitters, it allows them to organize and optimize their employees' itinerary.

Recommendations following these results include shared mobility for employees who live nearby, renewing the car fleet, or using soft mobility (bicycles, walking or public transport).

This software adapts to employees and collaborators and considers the constraints of each one. In this way, these tools involve employees in this change.

To conclude, the decarbonization of mobility is a fundamental issue in our fight against climate change. By taking into account all emissions scopes and implementing strategies to reduce the carbon footprint of the road mobility, we can reach our decarbonization goals and move serenely towards a greener mobility to ensure a sustainable environment for our future generations.

A woman is biking

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