Products from Pure, Global Cool, Equiclimate and Carbon Offsets Ltd already meet the standard which DEFRA wants to introduce to “raise the bar for the offsetting industry.”
The Government warns that the market risks becoming discredited by the emerging range of offset products. Environment Secretary David Miliband said the standard would overcome this, giving consumers “an assurance that when they offset their emissions, their money is being spent on projects that have genuine carbon dioxide emission reductions.”
DEFRA is consulting on a code which would set standards for:
- Emission reduction credits generated by projects that have reduced carbon emissions.
- Calculating the emissions to be offset.
- Information to consumers on the projects supported.
- Transparent pricing.
- Timescales for cancelling credits.
A quality mark developed to represent compliance with the code would be attached to accredited products, rather than to a company.
The Government favours a voluntary standard which would only allow certified credits such as those generated by the EU emissions trading scheme and Kyoto Protocol mechanisms. Most offset companies currently buy voluntary emission reductions – credits produced by projects outside of the regulated market. These would not be recognised.
Other options would be to introduce a mandatory code allowing either all emission reduction credits or only those certified.
The code will also encourage businesses offering offsetting, helping to make it a “compulsory choice” for consumers. Airlines and travel agents should include carbon offsetting as a “default option.”
Several travel companies, including First Choice Holidays and lastminute.com, have agreed to meet the standard by the end of the year.