An answer to climate disruption: Carbon on the invoices

Carbon on the invoices would meet the challenge of a general mobilization against Greenhouse Gases and climate disruption, by helping each producer to transmit the carbon footprint of its offers on its invoice or price tag.

The objective is that the smallest producer knows his footprint and transmits it to his customers without difficulty. The answer is to transpose to the carbons what he does for his costs, with his accounting to calculate them and his invoices to transmit them. With the help of the community, the accounting and carbon experts have the competence to help each producer to count his carbons (next to the costs) and to add them to his invoices (next to the prices).


How does it works

The producer of an offer, with the help of his accounting and carbon experts, breaks down his carbon footprint between the bills to his customers.

– If the producer does not produce carbon himself (he is not in the extraction of fossil fuels, nor in cement, breeding…) his footprint will be the simple addition of the invoices of his suppliers.

– If he is a primary carbon producer, a carbon expert validates them and they are added to the suppliers’ invoices (the expert counts the fuels as if they had already given rise to emissions, even those emitted later).

– If he imports from a country that does not put the carbons on the invoices, he relies on approved experts or applies a customs carbon scale.

The producer’s accountant thus has the elements to calculate the footprint of the production and to distribute it on the customers’ invoices, as he already distributes the costs.

All the community has to do is help the producers with the extra cost of expert assistance and help the experts to prime the first invoices. The system then quickly feeds itself through the invoices.


Producers and consumers can measure their annual contribution to the 2050 Trajectory and continuously improve it

Broad mobilization requires that each actor have a clear carbon target: their annual target contribution to the 2050 Trajectory that they can improve. Carbon on the invoices provide this.

– Its accounting gives the producer the annual footprint of its production and its variation over the previous year. The accountant withdraws the variation in volume for the producer annual contribution

CAUTION: Why remove the variation in volume? Because the producer has no way of knowing if a decrease in volume of his production is good for the 2050 Trajectory (or if an increase is bad): everything depends on the footprint of what replaces his offer in the customer’s budget (or what his offer replaces).

Example: a producer has a footprint of 500 MtC in 2021 and 550 MtC in 2022. Its 2022 footprint at constant volume is only 480 MtC. Its annual contribution to the 2050 Trajectory for 2022 is an improvement of 20 MtC

– Its bank statements give the consumer the footprint of its consumption and therefore its variation over the previous year: it is sufficient that electronic payments integrate the footprint of what is paid. This variation is the consumer’s annual contribution to the 2050 trajectory.

Example: a consumer has a footprint of 11.2 MtC in 2021 and 11.3 MtC in 2022. Its annual contribution to the 2050 Trajectory for 2022 is a degradation of 0.1 MtC

To accelerate the mobilization, the community offers each actor the annual advice of a carbon expert to improve their annual contribution as a producer or consumer to the 2050 Trajectory.


A guide for funding decisions towards the 2050 Trajectory

A general mobilization requires that each financer also have a clear carbon target: a financial annual contribution to the annual 2050 Trajectory that it can improve each year. Carbon on the invoices gives this measure. The idea is to measure the annual contribution of a financing to the 2050 Trajectory, by the contribution to the Trajectory of the entity which is financed: company, administration, individual… This contribution is taken in proportion to the total financing to the entity. This is an indirect contribution: funding in itself does not emit or capture any carbon. It helps a company, an administration, an individual, which has a footprint and a direct contribution. Funding enables this contribution, whether positive or negative.

This rule would apply to all financing: that of a company (loans or shares), of a bank, of an individual (for his car, his house, his current account, his savings…), by including in the financing taxes (local or national) and donations (with or without carbon credit).


Triggering virtuous carbon reputation competition, especially among large institutions

Carbon reputation competition in effect leads a producer to:

– Lower the carbon content of each offering or increase the share of its least carbon intensive offerings.

– Ensure the ambition of its annual contributions (especially for large institutions).

Carbon reputation competition also leads a citizen to:

– Prefer the same offer with less carbon (one yoghurt pot rather than another…) or replace a carbon offer with another less carbon one (save money by driving less fast…).

– Favour brands and institutions with the most ambitious annual contributions.

– Direct investments and donations towards less carbon-intensive financing.

– Vote according to the footprint of public services and the annual tax contribution.

To find the right balance between publicity and confidentiality of footprints and contributions, it would be sufficient to transpose the rules of publicity and confidentiality that already exist for prices and for accounts.


The role of politics

It is up to the politicians to build the collective agreement to bear the cost of this new infrastructure. It is currently being estimated, but appears marginal in view of the issues. The carbons on the invoices indeed, a) allow a decentralized management of a gigantic investment, b) avoid the technical and political risks of an overly centralized management and c) represent the only chance, by respecting the 2050 deadline, d to avoid even heavier investments in subsequent generations.

It is also up to politicians to imagine and build with all the players the compromises that this infrastructure makes possible. Compromises are impossible as long as we do not correctly measure the contributions of each and in particular of the most powerful actors: it is the slow race of selfishness. A precise and sincere measurement of contributions allows commitments with variable geometry with constraints in the event of delay.


The success of Carbon on the invoices depends on everyone’s action.

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