Two important pieces of important news yesterday
The UK Government announces a new mark for Carbon Offsetting
The UK Government releases a consultation paper on Carbon Neutrality.
Both are worthy of comment and both fall well short of where we should be.
New Offsetting Mark for Carbon Projects
Yet another mark! Fine but does this mean that it will compete with everyone else’s?
Having said that, it is good that the government is getting involved. However, my concern over the scheme is that they will only consider CER’ and EUA’s. What about Voluntary Emissions (VER’s) that meet the VCS standard- there are many projects that meet this standard that are very good. They must make this link.
Also if they are relying on the CDM board to pass CER’s before they get the UK standard, then why bother? Surely by passing as a CER that is enough. What we don’t need is another hoop to go through and on the face of it just seems like a rubber stamping and another way for the govt to make money.
The real need, is for regulation on the presently non-regulated voluntary market. Now that would be useful!
However, It is essential to build confidence in carbon projects and offsetting as part of the solution to climate change. Whilst this is a good step I question the continued use of the term ‘offsetting’. There is a clear opportunity to be bolder and make a clear break with a term that comes with substantial baggage. Surely, the word ‘Invest’ is much better as it implies a positive act and talks about what we are all trying to do. Invest in our future by investing in reductions.
Finally, it seems absolutely crazy that the only offset projects that can be bought are overseas! In the present financial crisis people will want to invest into their own communities and it is about time that the government stopped stealing our carbon credits. At Planet Positive we are actively looking at means of identifying carbon credits within the community along the lines as recommended by UKGBC.
My position on this is clear. Neutral is not enough, if we are going to make a real difference then we have to encourage carbon negative solutions ( i.e. net reduction in GHG emissions or at least rate of emissions). The term ‘carbon neutral’ falls FAR SHORT of what is needed - we must GO BEYOND NEUTRAL!
Other issues that jump out from the document ;
You can decide on your own boundary! – this is very weak and again leaves the term open to abuse. If a company uses the term you will have to then read the small print to work out what they are really doing. Most companies will take the easy route and just measure and offset scope 1 as it is the quickest and easiest route to CN
You don’t have to reduce!- whilst the govt states that companies are encouraged to reduce, there is no requirement to reduce—what a cop out! and what’s the point? Quite frankly this undermines everything else that they have done, as consumers will see it as just the same old ‘get out of jail free’ card where you can buy your way out, just by offsetting!
It is good that the government is engaging in the debate. It is good that they recognise that offsetting is a legitimate process. But they are missing a massive opportunity by limiting the target to neutral when we MUST GO NEGATIVE! They must also include VER’s and set reduction targets.
See link to Environmental Finance Magazine for other comments