Primary carbon

This page describes one of the worksites to develop Carbon on Invoices and to associate to each product or service its precise and sincere weight in greenhouse gases (or « carbon footprint »). The list of worksites is at the bottom of the page.

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Worksite objective : To ensure that the weights (or technical coefficients) of primary carbons are available to accountants of primary carbon evaluators (PCE) who are up to date with the latest scientific work.

The aim of Carbon on Invoices is to relieve accountants of checks on primary carbons, for which the legitimacy of the account is scientific and not accounting.

Primary carbons are those that are introduced (or removed, for carbon sinks) into the economic system by human activities. They are produced by a minority of companies (and local authorities) in France and Europe, outside agriculture. A large proportion of primary carbons are imported.

For a company that produces primary carbons, its carbon footprint manages these primary carbons like any other. C/f changes nothing.

For a company that does not have a carbon footprint and relies on C/f, it is required to simplify and secure as much as possible the addition of primary carbons to its footprint by relying on a scientifically validated, free and open source : a Primary Carbon Estimator (PCE). Two questions to be explored are to identify who (during the experiment and then at cruising speed) could play the role of Precursor PCE and Customs Carbon Scale for imported primary carbons.

The circuit for retrieving the information with the minimum risk of error and cost needs to be specified, in the case of an internal accountant and in the case of an external accountant (chartered accountant). Can a virtually cost-free mechanism be obtained for a small company, a) during the experiment, b) afterwards?

A full carbon footprint requires the company to have an upstream and downstream footprint. A petroleum company therefore counts all the carbons emitted during the combustion of the hydrocarbons it sells.

It is this complete footprint that must be counted by the PCE, and therefore by the companies producing the primary carbons. This simplifies the accounting for companies that recover these downstream carbons from their supplier invoices : their accountant can simply add up all the carbons in the supplier invoices, whether they are primary carbons or not. (The company that buys gas can then burn it or resell it, which is neutral for it and for its customers. Its footprint is automatically reduced without complicated calculations if it improves its processes because it buys less).

This approach makes it possible to focus attention on the technical factors of primary carbons, to compare figures between experts, and thus a) to improve this part of the customs carbon scale; b) to also improve the auditing of the figures of hydrocarbon producers for the « primary carbons » component*.

*Recent controversies show the importance of this audit: primary carbon losses on site or later. Knowing that these losses can reduce emissions (coal) or on the contrary multiply them (by 22 in the case of escaping methane compared to burned methane).

The « carbon sink » component of carbon balances should be checked.

It seems that this part is very simplified. No measurement, with the hypothesis that the positive effect of the carbons absorbed by the soil and plants during their growth compensates for the negative effect of the carbons emitted when the plants burn or rot.

A question arises from the fact that, overall, carbon sinks, and therefore the rural world and agriculture, have a very positive effect and that the 2050 trajectory expects them to increase. How can we draw a positive and motivating measure from this? And avoid counting only the « negative » side of agriculture?

How can we also take advantage of the « asset » approach to accounting to value the work done by farmers on the quality of their soil?

Is it true that it was organic producers who refused to accept carbon labelling because they were afraid of being less good than industrial agriculture? Is it true that a farmer who reduces methane emissions through his farming methods gets no credit for it?

It is also necessary to check the « livestock » component of primary carbons in carbon balances. This is because it is combined with the previous effect, if the livestock farming and the land on which it takes place are analysed together.

To find out more about ADEME’s measurement of primary carbons :

To measure the primary carbon absorbed by soils from agriculture, a typology would be needed (meadow, wetland, forest, crop field, etc.), with subtypes for each type depending on what is done to the soil, and for each subtype, a weight of carbon absorbed per hectare. And associate a sub-type with each cadastral parcel.