What is decarbonisation?

By ENGIE - 17 November 2021 - 14:26

One of the latest buzz words, decarbonisation is directly associated with the fight against climate change. But what exactly is it? What goals have been set in this respect? And practically speaking, how do you go about decarbonising? Keep reading for the answers...

Decarbonisation: definition

The word decarbonisation refers to all measures through which a business sector, or an entity – a government, an organisation – reduces its carbon footprint, primarily its greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), in order to reduce its impact on the climate. 


What goals have been set for decarbonisation?

This was a key topic during COP26 discussions and a great many countries worldwide have pledged to adopt decarbonisation measures. 
France, like the rest of the European Union, is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050. This means that public authorities are aiming to strike a balance between carbon emissions caused by human activities and absorption of carbon from the atmosphere by carbon sinks, like forests for example. The government's roadmap focuses on the "national low-carbon strategy" launched in 2015 and revised in 2018-2019, which sets the principal guidelines for achieving the transition to a low-carbon economy. 
And, of course, the industrial sector is being encouraged to take action. To encourage industry players to step up their decarbonisation process, France has promised almost three million euros in subsidies as part of its Recovery Plan. These subsidies cover industrial investments in areas such as energy efficiency and electrification, which will cut greenhouse gas emissions.


What are the principal decarbonisation solutions available?

One of the best ways to decarbonise can be summed up as "consume less, consume better". How?

  • By aiming for energy efficiency: when heating buildings, operating industrial plants, powering our cars, etc. 
  • By emphasising an approach focused on developing energy sufficiency which involves reducing energy consumption; 
  • By using renewable energy sources, which are greener. In the short and medium term, natural gas will replace more polluting fuels such as coal used for generating electricity, and oil used for heating. And in the longer term, green gases, biogas and hydrogen – renewable and produced from organic waste, for example – will replace natural gas;
  • By safeguarding carbon sinks - natural ecosystems (soil, forests, etc.) that capture carbon - by developing technologies to capture and store CO2.


It is clear that public authorities and industry stakeholders want to achieve carbon neutrality. And we already have solutions for decarbonising our economy. The result? A virtuous diptych that will bring about a profound change in how we produce and consume, all within one generation.