The Low Carbon Label

05/15/2024
Quincy French

What is the Low Carbon Label?

In 2018, the French Ministry of Ecological Transition created a label to recognize projects aimed at reducing emissions and sequestering carbon.

The Label Bas Carbone is the first voluntary climate certification to measure a project's contribution to the fight against climate change in terms of emissions reduction.

These projects contribute to the fight against climate change in two ways:

  • or by avoiding greenhouse gas emissions through changes in sectoral practices,
  • or by increasing carbon sequestration in natural sinks; the latter is proposed in the tree-city method.

The "Tree City" method

Developed by Société Forestière in 2023, La Méthode Ville Arborée promotes CO2 emission reductions through urban tree and shrub planting projects, as well as a range of co-benefits (Reduction of Urban Heat Islands, Biodiversity).

Integrating green spaces and increasing tree cover in cities plays a key role in the fight against climate change, contributing to both mitigation (thanks to the carbon captured and stored by trees and shrubs) and adaptation, by helping to combat Urban Heat Islands.

Label Bas Carbone eligibility and certification process

First of all, the project must meet certain criteria:

  • Be located in a town with more than 2,000 inhabitants.
  • 25-year term
  • Include the planting or replanting of trees and/or shrubs by a public or private player.
  • And most importantly, to help reduce emissions by at least 25 tonnes of CO2.

Once a project has been deemed eligible, its impact must be calculated.

Net CO2 emission reductions are calculated from the carbon sources and sinks associated with the project. Carbon sinks are calculated by taking into account :

  • Carbon removal generated by the felling of healthy trees
  • The amount of carbon stored by planted trees and shrubs
  • Storage in litter (decomposing leaves and plant debris).
  • Soil storage

To these reductions, we subtract emissions generated by machinery used to maintain green spaces.

Registration and labeling

Once the project's eligibility and emission reductions have been verified, the project notification must be submitted, and the labeling application must be prepared and submitted within a year.

The application must be submitted on the Ministry of Energy Transition website. Processing time is approximately one month. Once the project has been awarded the label, it will be possible to access the benefits of the Low Carbon Label, as well as the carbon credits generated by the project.

Audits and Carbon Credits

The 25-year period begins when the project is validated and is non-renewable. To maximize emissions reductions and carbon credits, rapid implementation is essential.

Emission reductions are calculated in advance from the planting date.

These are recalculated and allocated in part on the basis of audits carried out at 5 years and then at 15 years. After the final ex-post measures at 25 years, they will become actual emission reductions.

As long as the reductions have not been verified at the end of the 25-year audit, they are only potential reductions. They do not exist and cannot be sold.

Audits are carried out by a competent, independent auditor at each audit deadline. To meet the criteria, the auditor must :

  • Demonstrate technical expertise: by presenting recognized certificates, diplomas or experience, the auditor must prove that he or she has technical and scientific skills in urban greening. The titles of arboricultural expert, tree expert (or equivalent), or forestry expert, recognized by a level 5 diploma or higher, are sufficient. Presentation of a certificate of specialization in ornamental tree management is also acceptable. In addition, the auditor must be able to judge co-benefits and cartographic exhibits without having to justify his or her competence, given the diversity of the fields.
  • Demonstrate regulatory expertise: the auditor must have a sound knowledge of the regulatory context and the low-carbon label.

The auditor must also comply with the conditions of independence laid down in the standards.

In addition :

  • The auditor must be independent of both the project owner and the agent, and must carry out verifications impartially. To this end, they must set up an organization that guarantees their independence and impartiality, and avoids conflicts of interest.
  • An auditor may not work on a project if he or she has a contractual relationship with the project owner or agent that does not result from the verification contract or from contracts organizing other verifications independent of the Low-Carbon label. The audit carried out for the Low-Carbon label may be pooled with these other controls, audits or verifications.

Use of Carbon Credits

Project sponsors have two options for using their carbon credits.

  • Purchase by a financer: Carbon credits can be purchased by a financer to offset the cost of the project. As part of the Label Bas Carbone program, financiers are companies already committed to a global approach to reducing emissions, and wishing to offset their residual emissions by financing local carbon storage projects.
  • Internal or "In setting" offsetting: Carbon credits can be kept by the project owner for use in its own carbon balance sheet. This approach makes it possible to offset residual emissions.

There are several financing strategies, for example:

  • Part of the project is financed at the outset, with the remainder provided at the end depending on the volume of emissions reductions actually verified after the audit.
  • Credits can be purchased by mutual agreement, or the financier can contact the project owner directly, informing him or her of the number of tons to be financed, etc.

Co-benefits

In addition to storage, the Label Bas Carbone Ville arborée emphasizes 4 co-benefits linked to renaturation projects:

All these benefits have different values that align with the method, including heat island reductions, flood risk control, enhanced presences of local plants better adapted to the climate, improved air and water quality, and other interests.

Netcarbon: Your partner for certification

At Netcarbon, we can help you apply this method and facilitate access to essential data simply and efficiently. Through our Netcarbon Intelligence application, we can help you calculate the impact of your project and carry out all the necessary steps to facilitate certification. Our application enables you to :

  • impact calculations,
  • create a label application file
  • collect supporting documents
  • access to a follow-up of the project's emissions reductions over the 25 years.

Are you planning a landscaping or greening project? Test your project's eligibility for the Low Carbon Label in just a few clicks.

Check the eligibility of my project