Cablegate: French Carbon Footprint Eco-Labeling -- A Potential

DE RUEHFR #1543/01 3231749
R 191749Z NOV 09



State pass USEPA for International/Anna Phillips
State pass USTR

E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: French Carbon Footprint Eco-Labeling -- a Potential
Standards Trade Barrier

PARIS 00001543 001.2 OF 002

1. (U) SUMMARY: French Government environment and consumer
protection officials told Embassy that they are developing a
mandatory carbon footprint label for consumer products, with
implementation to begin January 1, 2011. The Trade Minister's
office was unaware of the proposed carbon labeling effort. Intended
by the Environment Ministry to send a "strong signal" to the
consumer to consider carbon, consumption, and environmental impact,
the measure could pose significant barriers to trade for U.S.
exporters to France, especially small and medium enterprises. Some
French industries, e.g. Champagne producers are already assessing
their carbon footprint, and looking to use it for commercial
advantage. END SUMMARY

Carbon Labeling in "Grenelle 2"
2. (SBU) Increasing consumers' awareness of their carbon footprints
is an element of the French environmental legislation currently
before the Parliament, known as "Grenelle of the Environment 2,"
which proposes a variety of measures to address climate change. The
proposed carbon label ISO 14064 would make carbon labels mandatory
on all French products, with publication of sectoral regulations
starting in January, 2011. "Grenelle 1" legislation, developed with
much fanfare and public input, contained mostly hortatory
principles, but if passed by the French Parliament the "Grenelle 2"
bill would codify binding regulations with real impacts on business
and consumers. Trade officials said some environmental measures
were already included in the Finance Law because of a fear that
Grenelle 2 would never be passed. However, trade contacts also told
Embassy that the Office of President Sarkozy and Environment
Minister Borloo are exerting significant political pressure to push
the bill through the Parliament, and the law is moving quickly and
quietly, with very little public discussion or engagement.

Lack of Interagency, EU, or Industry Coordination
--------------------------------------------- ----
3. (U) During a recent trip, U.S. Department of Commerce officials,
accompanied by Embassy, met with French environmental and trade
counterparts and highlighted the potential unintended consequences
of quickly enforcing a policy that required small and medium-sized
companies to carbon label products by 2011. The French trade
officials were surprised to hear of the measures, indicating that
there has been no collaboration on them between French environmental
and trade agencies. Coordination with the EU, other member states
with carbon labeling programs (e.g. Sweden and the UK), or
multilateral initiatives is sporadic and opaque, they said. Industry
trade groups, such as the food industry association with includes
Coca-Cola as a member, have been involved to some degree in various
working groups, but no formal mechanism exists for foreign companies
to provide input or seek clarification.

4. (U) At ADEME (Agency for Environment and Energy Management,) a
technical organization associated with the Ministry of Ecology,
Energy, Sustainable Development and Oceans (MEEDDM), officials told
us that they are working with the Ministry of Economy's consumer
protection staff and private consultants who are experts in carbon
lifecycle analysis. ADEME collaborates with the International
Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the French Association of
Standardization (AFNOR). AFNOR, an ISO member, is partially
responsible for setting standards and acts as a bridge between the
public and private sectors. In addition, ADEME collaborates with
the French International Center of Environment and Development
(CIRED), the agency responsible for the oversight of research in
sustainable development. According to ADEME, ISO is forming a
working group to create a methodology to determine a product's
carbon footprint, the necessary predicate to a uniform labeling
standard. ADEME admitted that smaller French companies may find it
difficult to comply with the carbon label initiative, and the food
industry lobby would prefer no labeling at all. They also expect
delayed implementation of the sectoral decrees and possible
confusion with the proliferation of labeling standards and

Champagne Industry expects Demand For "Green" Champagne
--------------------------------------------- ----------
5. (U) Champagne producers are far ahead in assessing their carbon
footprint, part of their general strategy of keeping champagne a
high-value product through strict enforcement of its famous name,
production area, environmental quality, ethics, and global
responsibility. Officials from Champagne CIVC, an organization of

PARIS 00001543 002.2 OF 002

Champagne producers and traders, told USDOC representatives that
they independently began assessing their carbon footprint in 2002
using ADEME's first-generation software and began a carbon reduction
plan in 2003. Champagne CIVC is working with wine producers in
Bordeaux and Burgundy to undertake a similar analysis. Currently,
the Champagne producers are not labeling their products as "green,"
but anxiously await the "Grenelle 2" legislation and the final
carbon label regulations. They are also hoping to reduce their
carbon footprint before France implements a carbon tax, now being
debated in Parliament.

A Uniform Methodology: The Devil's In the Details
--------------------------------------------- -----
6. (U) Comment: A scientifically-based, uniform carbon assessment
methodology is crucial to any effort to develop a label that gives
consumers real choices. Defining the outer limits of the carbon
footprint is especially challenging. Aside from the obvious carbon
impact of long-distance transportation, U.S. companies may find
themselves disadvantaged by any unilateral French system. While
AFNOR, ADEME, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are
reportedly all working on a common methodology, trade considerations
are not currently part of the mix. Carbon labeling, whatever its
merits, could present significant trade challenges to U.S. producers
and EU single market goals.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN News: Vaccine Inequity Triggers ‘Huge Disconnect’ Between Countries

Although COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to decline globally for a second consecutive week, the UN health agency chief said on Monday that “a huge disconnect” is mounting between some highly vaccinated countries, which see the pandemic as largely resolved, ... More>>

Save The Children: Almost 60 Children Killed In Gaza In The Last Week Alone

Save the Children is calling for an immediate ceasefire by all parties, as 58 children[i] in Gaza and two children in southern Israel have been killed in the last week. More than a thousand people in Gaza, including 366 children[ii], have also been injured. ... More>>

IPPPR: The Independent Panel Calls For Urgent Reform Of Pandemic Prevention And Response Systems

Expert independent panel calls for urgent reform of pandemic prevention and response systems The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response is today calling on the global community to end the COVID-19 pandemic and adopt a series of bold and ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

ILO Voices: A Future With Hope, Free From Bonded Labour

By Padma Kumari Tamata Formerly in bonded labour, Padma Kumari Tamata is now a farmer, and grows and sells her own vegetables in the Kanchanpur district of Nepal. My name is Padma and I come from Vashi, a small hamlet in Nepal’s far-west Kanchanpur district. ... More>>

UN: Economic Recovery Under Threat Amid Surging COVID Cases And Lagging Vaccination In Poorer Countries

New York, 11 May — While the global growth outlook has improved, led by robust rebound in China and the United States, surging COVID-19 infections and inadequate vaccination progress in many countries threaten a broad-based recovery of the world ... More>>

Study: Cut Methane Emissions To Avert Global Temperature Rise

6 May 2021 Methane emissions caused by human activity can be reduced by up to 45 per cent this decade, thus helping to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change, according to a UN-backed ... More>>