Resource centre for greenhouse gas accounting
Ministère de la Transition Écologique
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A regional government

The essential role of territorial collectivities (local/regional authorities)

Unlike companies and public establishments, a collectivity - aka local/regional authority - can carry out two types of GHG inventory:

  • On the scale of its patrimony and competences: This involves taking into account the emissions which are generated by the operation of the activities and services of the collectivity and the implementation of competences (mandatory or optional), just as a company would do (e.g., colleges, or social action for a department).
  • On the scale of its territory: This takes into account the geographical or administrative territory as a whole, generally divided up per sector of activity (agriculture, industry, residential, service sector, tourism, passenger and goods transport, etc.).
Organization GHG Inventory Territory GHG Inventory

Scope: The patrimony and competences of the collectivity

Objective: Diagnostic prior to actions on activities specific to the collectivity

Description: This inventory treats the collectivity like a classic organization (company or public establishment).

Example: Patrimony and competences Bilan Carbone®; the regulatory method

See also: Organization GHG emissions inventory

Scope: The territory and its inhabitants

Objective: Diagnostic prior to a Territorial Climate & Energy Plan (PCET)

Description: This inventory considers that the territorial collectivity has a mission to reduce all direct and indirect emissions in its territory and necessary to its activity. This inventory takes in the emissions of all economic stakeholders in the territory.

Example: Territorial inventories, Territory Bilan Carbone®, Consumption approach

See also: Territory GHG emissions inventory


Before embarking on its GHG inventory, the collectivity must ask itself the question: "What method for what needs?





Regulations concerned

Collectivities need to take into account many obligations (PCET, SRCAE,) and various approaches (Agenda 21, Climat Pratic, Citergie, Covenant of Mayors, AEU, ClimAgri, etc.).

Below are presented exercises that have a more or less direct link with carbon accounting, particularly concerning the collection of data or the use of emission factors.

A certain number of points presented below will be affected by the Government bill concerning Energy transition.

Territorial Climate & Energy Plan (PCET) SRCAE


The other environmental approaches

Cit'ergie certification approach

Cit'ergie is a label of excellence which distinguishes the performance of the best "energy and climate" policies for territorial collectivities. It enables the collectivity to construct or reinforce its energy policy in a process of continuous improvement. For each of the strategic areas addressed (territorial development, patrimony, power supplies, water and sanitation, mobility, internal organization, communication and cooperation), the collectivity makes a situational analysis and then defines a precise and detailed action plan. The approach comprises support from a trained and certified Cit'ergie consultant.

Carrying out a GHG inventory makes it possible to ensure the capacity to identify data and indicators included in the Cit'ergie approach, so as to be able to prioritize the energy - climate action plan for the collectivity and establish the basis for monitoring the action plan and evaluating the energy & climate policy of the collectivity.

To find out more, go to:


The Covenant of Mayors

The Covenant of Mayors is an initiative taken by the mayors of European local and regional authorities (5450 as of August 2014) who are committed to exceeding the European Union objectives by 2020, i.e.: reduction of the CO2 emissions on their territories by 20%. In the year following registration, the signatories must submit their SEAP (Sustainable Energy Action Plan), which describes the means envisaged for attaining the objectives.

The SEAP of the signatory authority is drawn up on the basis of a Baseline Emissions Inventory. This needs to be carried out on the territorial scale, and take into account Scopes 1 and 2. The Covenant of Mayors proposes a list of standard emission factors for carrying out this inventory. However, the use of customized emission factors, such as those of the Base Carbone®, is entirely possible as long as they are relevant for the territory.

To find out more: Go to the website: covenant of mayors


Urban planning and GHG

  • Target: sponsors of urban planning projects
  • Framework: voluntary approach with the backing of CERMA and ADEME
  • GHG tool: self-supporting tool based on the Territory Bilan Carbone®


Reducing GHG emissions is restated as one of the objectives of the urban planning documents in the new drafting of the founding principles of the French Urban Planning Code (art L121-1 of 17 May 2011).

Since 2012, three dedicated tools for the integration of GHG emissions in urban planning projects have been available:

  • GHG SCOT: development scenarios. This decision-making tool is used in the drafting phase of the territorial PADD (Projet d’Aménagement et de Développement Durable - Planning and Sustainable Development Project), upstream of the orientation and objectives document. It is meant for elected representatives, joint associations responsible for the territorial coherence plans (SCoT), the decentralised services of the State which support collectivities in the SCoT drafting procedure, and for urban planning professionals, urban planning agencies, and design and engineering firms.
  • GHG PLU: This tool is used to evaluate greenhouse gas emissions generated or avoided using different land-use plans (PLU). This decision-making tool is used in the drafting phase of the territorial PADD (Projet d’Aménagement et de Développement Durable - Planning and Sustainable Development Project) for communal land-use planning (PLU).
  • GES OpAm (Opération d’aménagement [Development operation]): This tool is used to compare different scenarios for a development operation with regard to their GHG emissions. It is used in the upstream phases of projects, during preliminary studies and in the course of pre-operational or feasibility studies. Where land-use development operations are concerned, this essentially concerns ZACs (zones d’aménagement concerté – concerted urban development zones), but this tool can also be used for other development operations such as housing developments, inasmuch as this gives rise to the drafting of different overall development scenarios.

These three tools are based on the methodological framework of the Territory Bilan Carbone® and the emission factors structuring it. 

They are presented in the form of a spreadsheet comprising various forms (home, data entry, calculations, results). The data entry form is divided into topics consisting of a set of questions prompting qualitative or quantitative answers. Users can answer in greater or lesser detail according to:

  • the knowledge they have of their project and of their territory
  • the hypotheses that they wish to test

 Default values are sometimes proposed in order to arrive rapidly at an initial calculation of the GHG emissions.

 These three tools are designed to be directly implemented by the project sponsor, without the need for training or technical assistance, with the exception of projects that are complex on account of their size or their nature. To facilitate their application, two documents accompany these tools: the "how to" user guide and the technical guide covering all emission factors. Furthermore, CERTU makes available to project sponsors a user site offering assistance and ensuring that operations can be capitalized upon.

To access the user site:
Login: siteddcertu
Password: meltrstcertu


What is at stake for collectivities?

Local and regional authorities (collectivities) are key players in combating climate change. In the infrastructural decisions they make (land development, urban planning, transport, etc.) with regard to the patrimonial assets that they manage (buildings, public lighting, etc.), and on account of all the activities that fall within their management remit (transport, waste disposal, district heating, etc.), collectivities account for over 12% of the national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, or 60 million t. CO2eq. per annum.

Introduced by the Plan Climat ("Climate Plan") 2004, the "Territorial Climate & Energy Plans" (PCET - Plans Climat Énergie Territoire) enable each collectivity which so desires to draw up its own climate strategy. Before defining its actions, the collectivity must begin by quantifying the emissions linked to the activities on its territory.

Upstream of this, the regional energy and GHG observatories gather and evaluate the data, and advise the collectivities in order to support them in drafting their territorial GHG emissions inventories. Their activity is described in particular in the cross-functional and sectoral technical reports of the "Outils Territoriaux Énergie Climat" - Climate & Energy Territorial Tools (OTEC) Group.

Once the emitters and the volumes of GHGs produced are known, the commune, agglomeration or intercommunal syndicate can draw up its action program.

Globally, as an organization, collectivities have six broad levers of action for controlling their emissions:

  • energy policy: 75% of municipal energy is consumed by buildings;
  • public procurement: electricity from renewable energy sources, fleets of clean vehicles, sources of clean lighting;
  • urban planning: by increasing the density of the habitat, mobility requirements are reduced and hence so too are the GHG emissions attributable to the means of transport;
  • transport: development of environmentally-friendly transport, creation of a multi-mode platform to limit HGV traffic;
  • waste management: through the process of fermentation, household waste releases methane, a GHG that is 23-times more potent than CO2. By reducing the flows of putrescible waste, we can reduce both methane emissions and the need for waste collection with trucks.
  • green spaces: high consumers of fertilizer (emitters of nitrous oxide, a GHG 296-times more potent than CO2) and fuel (trucks, machinery).


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