Since October 1, 2013, companies active in the transportation of goods or passengers, as well as moving companies, offering transportation services having either their origin or their destination in France are subject to an obligation to inform the beneficiary of the service of the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted during the performance of a transportation service.
In practice, the categories of businesses affected by the obligation include:
Transportation services operators (freight or passengers carriers);
All professionals selling transportation services on behalf of other people, whether carried out by themselves or by partnered transportation companies (in practice, this also includes freight forwarders and travel agencies);
Any business, either in France or abroad, public or private, which organizes transportation services; and
Moving companies, for removal services.
This obligation, which forms part of France’s initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, has been conceived with a very broad scope and covers all modes of transportation such as, road, rail, waterway, maritime and air transport.
Transportation service providers affected
Pursuant to Article 2 of Decree n° 2011-1336 of 24 October 2011, the obligation to provide information on CO2 emissions applies to “any person, public or private, which markets or organizes a service of transportation of persons or goods or removal services provided via one or more modes of transportation, having its origin or destination in the national territory, except for services provided for such person’s own account."
The obligation to provide information on CO2 emissions applies to every business, regardless of its size, the number of employees or of the importance of the service.
Information on CO2 emissions is mandatory, even with regards to free services (e.g., city bus service provided free of charge by local authorities).
The transportation service provider must provide the beneficiary of the service, i.e., the person who pays for the transportation, with the quantity of carbon dioxide emitted during (i) the pre-operational phase (i.e., the activities implemented upstream so that the mode of transportation obtains its energy source) and (ii) the operational phase (i.e., the transportation itself).
When should the information be provided?
The time when the transportation service provider must provide the information to the beneficiary of the service can vary depending on the circumstances.
For the transport of goods, following Article 12 of Decree n° 2011-1336, the time can be agreed between the parties (i.e., the transportation service provider and beneficiary of the service). In the absence of any agreement between the parties, the information must be provided at the latest two months after the service has been provided.
For the transport of passengers, the information must be provided “before the purchase of the entitlement to transportation (e.g. the ticket) or, if none is issued, at the latest once the service has been provided”.
In what form should the information be provided?
Pursuant to Article 12 of Decree n° 2011-1336, the transportation service provider must inform the beneficiary of the service “in a sincere, clear and unambiguous manner, by any means it deems appropriate.”
In practice, the scheme therefore allows for multiple opportunities to communicate the information, which should be adapted to take into account the nature of the business in question (transport of goods or passengers) and the relationship with the client (occasional, regular, professional shippers). In practice, the information can be communicated on the ticket, on the invoice for the transportation service or via the internet through a transport-tracking tool.
Differences between the French scheme and the ECS Standard EN 16258
The European Committee for Standardization (ECS) provides a methodology for calculation and declaration of energy consumption and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions of transport services. According to French official administrative guidance, a company complying with ECS standard EN 16258 will not necessarily provide information that is compliant with the French legislation but the information provided will be very close.
It is expected by the industry that the French scheme will be made compliant with ECS standard EN 16258 within the next couple of years.
Although no sanctions for non-compliance with the scheme have yet been set, French authorities appear to be counting on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and market incentives to ensure the scheme’s effectiveness.
The transport industry sees more and more public and private tenders requiring compliance with the French scheme or the ECS standard EN 16258 as a condition to award a contract and some transportation companies are already using this compliance argument to show their commitment to the protection of the environment.
 This obligation has been mandated by article 228 of Law n° 2010-788 of 12 July 2010 establishing a commitment to the environment and is now codified in Article L. 1431-3 of the French Transports Code.
 However, small businesses (i.e., those with fewer than 50 employees) and very short distance transportation (e.g., taxi rides or metro journeys) may use simplified methods of calculation, i.e., the so-called level 1 values.