More than 110 countries have committed to achieving carbon neutrality - which implies a balance between carbon emissions and the absorption of carbon from the atmosphere by carbon sinks - by 2050, a goal enshrined at the European Union level by a Green Pact for Europe.

This objective represents a first step in the hope of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2100, the objective advocated by the 2015 Paris Agreements.
However, if the States are the guarantors of the approach, the decarbonization of companies represents - among others - the cornerstone of the project.

A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2014 called "RCP scenario" has sounded the alarm on the need for companies to implement an eco-responsible policy.
Indeed, only one scenario, known as "RCP 2.6", makes it possible to contain global warming to less than 2 degrees by 2100. This scenario requires the combined efforts of a multitude of actors: from governments to businesses, civil society and the financial sector.

This is why companies have been committed to reducing greenhouse gases since 2015. On an international scale, the 500 companies with the highest emissions have set targets for reducing their carbon emissions.
However, only 11% of the 500 companies cited have a long-term target that is considered consistent with keeping global warming below 2°C.

At the national level, significant progress has also been made. Last December, at a summit at the Elysée Palace, the 40 companies of the CAC 40 committed to adopting a new standard to account for their CO2 emissions.

Beyond a real necessity to preserve the future, it is also a marketing tool of choice for these companies since 43% of the French consider that companies are among the major actors of sustainable development - according to a survey of the Institute of opinion and marketing studies in France and abroad (IFOP) of December 9, 2020.

However, this improvement needs to be put into perspective. A March 2021 report, commissioned by Mazars (an international consulting firm) from IFOP and conducted among 400 French company executives, established that only 52% of executives consider carbon neutrality a priority and that only 25% of them have actually committed or plan to commit to a carbon neutrality project. Only 16% have formalized a precise roadmap.

For Edwige Rey, Partner and Head of CSR & Sustainable Development at Mazars, this 16% figure is not surprising. Indeed, the study cited targeted few companies with more than 500 employees, which are the only ones required to publish a carbon footprint every four years since the Grenelle law.

Beyond this purely environmental dimension, the question of skills and information comes into play. Indeed, the same survey indicates that "67% of managers confide that they do not have sufficient knowledge of the tools and methodologies that would enable them to define, measure and therefore achieve a carbon neutrality strategy for their company.

Finally, the economic dimension is a determining factor: "48% of these same executives mention the need to implement a more incentive-based tax system.

The role of the State in supporting these companies is therefore fundamental:

- Through binding instruments on the one hand, such as the implementation of a "sustainable development" reporting for all companies regardless of their size, which would make them more accountable
- Through incentive instruments on the other hand, such as the reinforcement of eco-tax measures, responsible purchasing, customs barriers, refusal of access to the market for certain products or market mechanisms such as the carbon exchange, the cap on emissions trading systems.

All of these instruments, although already in place, are not necessarily known by all companies and the general public, and a vast information campaign on the part of public actors should be implemented.

A careful balance must be found to avoid the implementation of tools that encourage greenwashing (a misleading marketing method that consists of communicating to the public using the ecological argument).

For companies with public capital, the State is watching over them.
Indeed, the State shareholder, through the Ministry of Economy and Finance, has defined a charter on corporate social and environmental responsibility that it intends to enforce imperatively.

The charter states that: "Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit global warming to a maximum of 2° by the end of the century is not just another financial performance objective; it is an essential commitment that must be met because it is vital for us all.

Three main areas are targeted for the implementation of action plans:
The full integration of CSR into the raison d'être of Public Enterprises
The transition to a low-carbon economy and the reduction of the impact of the activities of public companies on the environment
Exemplarity as a responsible employer in the areas of gender diversity and non-discrimination.

The State shareholder, via its State Holdings Agency, intends to conduct rigorous monitoring based on measurable indicators and progress trajectories.

The awareness of companies, whether public or private, is real today, but too slow, as the IFOP statistics show. However, it is necessary, as Louis Schweitzer, former Chairman of the Renault group, rightly pointed out in 2005: "Sustainable development is neither a utopia nor even a challenge, but the condition for the survival of the market economy.