The objective of the project is to provide an overview of carbon accounting practices in France and to understand its implementation. Through qualitative data collection, more precise research questions on emerging low-carbon business models, the impact of the supply chain on the development of accounting practices and low carbon strategy will be addressed.

Funded by the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME), this projects unites 6 partners: Grenoble School of Management, Hotel School of Lausanne, the ECIC company, the ECO 2 Initiative company, the Association Bilan Carbone Association, and TBS Education. TBS coordinates the project, with a PhD student who is supervised by TBS researchers.

Contact :

Challenges, results and impact of the Accounting and Carbon Strategy Project

Interview with Simon ALCOUFFE

Simon ALCOUFFE, Researcher at the Accounting, Control and Performance Management Lab at TBS

– What are the challenges of this research project?

This research project aims to contribute to a better knowledge and understanding of the practices and impacts of the accounting and carbon strategy of SMEs in France. While SMEs hold a privileged place in the French economic fabric, their link with the subject of sustainable development has hardly been studied. In addition, SMEs often communicate little on these subjects, which often makes their practices invisible.

– What are the main results of this research so far?

We provided ADEME with a 227-page report including 38 recommendations. Eight research questions were answered. In a very synthetic way, French SMEs quantify their Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions when they perceive opportunities linked to climate change and when management promotes a pro-environmental culture. Unfortunately, this quantification is not always followed by effect. The main reason for inaction in this area is the lack of setting reduction targets, the lack of binding regulations and, again, a corporate culture effect. In terms of a low-carbon business model, SME managers implement this type of approach because they see it as an economic opportunity. This constitutes an important development in the thinking of leaders, insofar as economic and environmental issues are often presented as a paradox to be resolved.

– What is the impact of the research for the partner companies?

The knowledge produced in this project aims to help reduce the climate impact of economic activities. The results obtained should make it possible to improve and orient the methodological and normative developments associated with carbon accounting and climate instruments intended for SMEs. The results will, for example, make it possible to orient the regulatory and incentive mechanisms relating to the GHG Assessment at the national level, or to enlighten ADEME on the implementation and improvement of various international projects and the relevance of their reproducibility at the national and / or regional scale for SMEs and midcaps.

– How does the funding help research move forward ?

The funding made it possible to collect the data necessary for this research. The project combines both quantitative and qualitative methodologies to address eight areas of knowledge in two different ways, including:

  • Catalysts and impediments for the integration of carbon into the strategy,
  • Impacts of adopting a carbon strategy and accounting on the company’s relations with its business ecosystem,
  • Appropriation of the carbon strategy and accounting by the different businesses (logistics, production, R & D, etc.).

This research design is particularly ambitious and was made possible thanks to the ADEME funding.

Dissemination of results

The table below presents the data of the dissemination of the results during academic conferences.

ConferenceDatePaper TitleAuthors
CSEAR France 2017May 2017Comptabilité carbone et affects : une exploration à travers le cas d’une PME françaiseR. Jabot, D. Gibassier, S. Alcouffe
PROS 2018June 2018Addressing small challenges and scaling up: how field experiments drive institutional changeM. Cartel,
D. Gibassier
EGOS 2018July 2018Addressing small challenges and scaling up: how field experiments drive institutional changeM. Cartel,
D. Gibassier
CSEAR UK 2018August 2018Comptabilité carbone et affects : une exploration à travers le cas d’une PME françaiseR. Jabot, D. Gibassier, S. Alcouffe
CSEAR UK 2018August 2018A three-level analysis of carbon accounting voluntary adoption: Drivers in the French SMEs contextT. Jérôme, S. Alcouffe, D. Gibassier
New Institutional Theory WorkshopMarch 2019Addressing small challenges and scaling up: how field experiments drive institutional changeM. C artel,
D. Gibassier
AFC 2018May 2019Comptabilité carbone et affects : une exploration à travers le cas d’une PME françaiseR. Jabot, D. Gibassier, S.Alcouffe
CSEAR UK 2019August 2019Antecedents of the Joint Use of Environmental Management Accounting Tools: A Study of Sustainability-oriented French SMEsT. Jérôme, S. Alcouffe, D. Gibassier

Diffusion of results to the general public 

  • Two web conferences were organized on the project by the Association Bilan Carbone (ABC), a consortium member, on March 17 and May 5, 2020. Replays are available here:

Partner testimonials

Interview with Quentin GUIGNARD

Quentin Guignard Carbone Pme

Quentin GUIGNARD, Head of Methodology Division – Association Bilan Carbone (ABC)

Association Bilan Carbone

As the carrier of the method and developer of the Bilan Carbone® tools, we mainly target small businesses and organizations that do not have the resources to develop their own tools. The project therefore has a primary goal: to provide information on our target and their practice of carbon accounting within environmental issues in general. Thanks to these initial feedbacks, we have already been able to adapt our communication and rework our tools to respond more precisely to the needs.

What’s more, working with academia is at the heart of ABC. Carbon accounting lies between technical deployment in the field and methodological development in accordance with the reports of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and the practices of society, requiring an academic perspective. The research team brings together several disciplines of social, economic and management sciences and has highlighted interesting trends, which show the way for future developments.

Finally, this project offered the opportunity to all stakeholders to reconsider their role and discuss their own low carbon transition. The expertise in carbon accounting will probably not remain the exclusivity of specialized consulting firms, and it is time to become mature enough to no longer focus on accounting alone but on the deployment of strategies to drastically reduce our emissions.


Simon Alcouffe :