Government still cool on voluntary offsets

The government’s response to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee’s report on the voluntary carbon offset market suggests it is not convinced by the committee’s arguments for including voluntary schemes in its code for carbon offsets.1

The government says that while it welcomes attempts to develop different carbon offset products, it remains concerned that the absence of a commonly accepted standard could damage consumer confidence and actually reduce the uptake of offsetting.

It has therefore declined to include voluntary offsets in its best practice code for offsetting, due to be launched in April, until the industry has "come together to develop and implement a common standard… which meets the principles of a good quality offset."

Even if a single standard is developed, the government will not reverse its decision until it is satisfied that it is delivering robust and reliable credits.

The latest draft of the code was published by the Environment Department in February (see p 48 )

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