Wednesday, 13 April 2011

ADEME is developing an IT carbon footprint calculator for France

A month ago I relayed the news that The Carbon Trust, the WRI and WBCSD - the two organisations behind the Greenhouse Protocol Initiative - and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) are developing new guidance on how ICT companies and customers should calculate the carbon footprint of ICT products and services.

Well it seems they’re not the only ones. reports that ADEME, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency, is also addressing the question. ADEME is preparing a greenhouse gas emissions assessment tool for the IT sector using its Bilan Carbone methodology. and Zen’To, a French green ICT consultancy (founded by ex-BT managers) will be helping to develop the guidance and the methodology and emission factors will be available at the end of the year.


The difference between ADEME and the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative group is that ADEME is an (independent) government institution whilst the GHG Protocol group is made up of IT industry representatives, environmental consultancies and an NGO. 

It’s likely that the two approaches will come up with similar methodologies. Let’s hope so, since the more ways there are to measure emissions the more confusing it is for potential users and the more difficult it is to compare measurements between companies, which must be one of the main objectives.

Hopefully the outcomes will be similar enough for the organisations to eventually agree a common standard. They do have the same goal after all.

© The Green IT Review


  1. Darrel Stickler13 April 2011 at 17:16

    Hi! Your description of the GHG Protocol effort is not complete and as well gives the impression the GHGP effort is somehow suspect because it is not (independent).

    The Greenhouse Gas Protocol is the source of the leading, global carbon accounting standards over at least the last 7 years. The ICT Sector Supplement is being prepared under the same open and inclusive processes used by all the GHGP standards. This includes full stakeholder engagement. The World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) jointly manage the GHG Protocol.

    The heavy lifting is being done jointly by what is called a Practitioner Technical Working Group (TWG) and a Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG). The TWG is in fact made up of academics, OEMs and ISPs, and consultancies for the simple reason that these groups have substantial experience figuring out how to accurately account for the carbon costs and benefits of IT products and solutions. It is thought marshalling people that have learned by experience is a necessary basis for a useful standard.

    In addition, members of the TWG have substantial and frequent contact with key members of the SAG -- analysts, environmental advocacy groups, government representatives, and early adopters (customers). A sampling from both the TWG and SAG form a Steering Committee. The SAG is open to anyone interested--standard practice for all GHGP standards. Visit for more information.

    An ongoing problem is coordinating efforts among the many underway around the world. Carbon is a very popular topic and there are many efforts underway in parallel. The Global eSustainability Initiative (GeSI) is tasked with coordinating exchange among IT-related efforts. The ADEME effort can be added to a coordination to-do list that includes ICT4EE, WEF, ITU, iNEMI, EICC and others.

    Darrel Stickler
    Cisco Systems

  2. Apologies if I gave the wrong impression in some way.

    If you look back through my posts you will see that I view the GHG Protocol as the de facto standard for emissions calculations. Indeed in the previous post referenced here I wrote "What’s different here, though, is that (the new ICT emissions guidance from the GHG Protocol) has a group of heavyweight organisations behind it. Between them they have the skill and experience to come up with effective guidance, the ICT industry tie-in to give it credibility in the industry and the GHG Protocol’s existing user base to help ensures the guidance will reach a wide audience".

    In my view it would be better for everyone to get behind the one standards organisation - the GHG Protocol - but it's the nature of different countries and standards bodies to at least go through the process of developing their own version. Fortunately, in many cases they have used the GHG Protocol model and often deferred to it as the final arbiter.

    (The 'independent' reference is to the fact that ADEME is not directly controlled by the French government).