Ernst & Young (E&Y) France has developed a new tool that
calculates the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that would be saved
by holding virtual meetings and conferences as opposed to
travelling to hold the events in person.

A basic version of the programme – Visio CO2 – is available on
the firm’s website. It allows users to enter the data for a single
event and then calculates the amount of CO2 that could be saved.
More technical versions have been developed for specific clients,
which have features such as consolidating the amount of CO2 saved
in a year.

Eric Mugnier, an executive director within the E&Y France
environment and sustainability services team, told IAB
that most of the work behind the project involved creating a
database with information such as the distances between cities. The
tool covers more than 100 international cities, mainly in France
and Europe.

There were both internal and external drivers behind developing the
tool, Mugnier said. Internally, E&Y France has a tool for
virtual conferences and the firm was keen to explore ways to
promote the advantages of the tool, aside from the convenience of
avoiding the time and discomfort of travel. Mugnier explained that
while the firm has not committed to becoming carbon-free, it is
working on diagnosing its most significant environmental

The external drivers include certain clients’ desire to increase
the awareness of their employees about the impact of transport, as
well as telecommunications and internet operators’ demand to
develop environmental cases to promote their services.

Virtual meetings are becoming more common and Ernst & Young
views Visio CO2 as just one tool to cut carbon emissions. Mugnier
added: “Although the buildings – either heating or cooling – are a
significant source of CO2 emissions, our main source is
transportation. As we are auditors and consultants, we spend most
of our time moving from one client to another.”

At present there is only a French version of Visio CO2, although an
English language version will soon be developed.

Visio CO2 has been developed by the firm’s environment and
sustainability services team. The team is comprised of 45 people
nationally and 400 globally, and has three specific lines of work –
audit, consulting and research.

The audit team’s work includes auditing companies’ reports for the
EU Emission Trading Scheme. Under the scheme, the EU’s largest
emitters of carbon dioxide must monitor and annually report their
CO2 emissions. “That keeps us very busy right now,” Mugnier said.
“Also, on a voluntary basis many large companies report on social
and environmental performance in their annual reports. All CAC 40
[Cotation Assistée en Continu] companies [France’s largest listed
companies] report and more than 60 percent have it verified via
external audit.”

The consulting work the group performs includes working with air
transport companies to develop CO2 strategies. An example of the
research business is working with the French environment protection
agency in order to develop a national plan to enhance

The firm is also now working on developing invoices that outline
not only cost in currency, but also cost in CO2 emissions. “So you
have a service, you have the amount of money that it costs and you
have the amount of CO2 that it costs. That’s something that we will
all come to,” Mugnier said.

Carolyn Canham