Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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Offsetting code to go ahead: Ruddock

Offsetting code to go ahead: Ruddock

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (News Release ref :216/07) issued by The Government News Network on 13 July 2007

A voluntary Code of Best Practice for the offsetting industry will be established, backed by strong support from the offsetting industry, business, environment NGOs and others.

Minister for Climate Change, Biodiversity and Waste Joan Ruddock announced the decision on the publication of the summary and analysis of responses to the draft Code, which was published in January.

Joan Ruddock said:

"While avoiding or reducing our emissions as much as possible has to be the first priority in fighting climate change, we have to be realistic about how much people will do - and that's where offsetting has an important role to play.

"People need to be sure that when they buy an offsetting product the emissions reductions are actually taking place, which is why we are developing this Code, which will be accompanied by a quality mark for accredited products.

"An overwhelming majority of respondents to the consultation are in favour of a voluntary code for offsetting products to deal with the risk that without recognised standards consumer confidence could be damaged and the potential impact of offsetting reduced.

"In light of that clear consensus, I am pleased to confirm that we will establish a Code of Best Practice, which we aim to have in place by the end of the year. It will provide clarity and assurance for consumers and encourage the industry to develop further."

The Code will be voluntary, meaning that offsetting providers or companies that sell offsets alongside their goods and services will be able to choose whether they want to seek accreditation for some or all of their products.

The consultation also demonstrated strong support for including certified credits from the regulated (Kyoto) market. There was a broad range of views on whether other kinds of credits should be included in the Code. Along with a majority of respondents supporting Kyoto-recognised credits, many also felt that the Code should include high-quality Voluntary Emission Reductions (VERs) from the non-regulated market, with a number of suggestions for doing so. This issue will be considered further as Defra develops the Code.

There also appeared to be consensus that the Code should require offsetters to use accurate, consistent emissions figures and factors. This work will be co-ordinated by the accreditation body.

Further decisions on the code's requirements will be announced later in the summer. The final code will be developed in the autumn by the accreditation body working closely with Defra, and in light of stakeholder views. The partial Regulatory Impact Assessment prepared for the consultation will be reviewed and revised, taking into account responses to the consultation.

The summary and analysis of responses is available at http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/carbonoffsetting-cop/index.htm

Notes to Editors

1. Defra launched a consultation on its proposed Code of Best Practice on 16 January 2007.

2. Offsetting is a way of compensating for emissions produced with an equivalent carbon saving, lessening the impact of a consumer's actions. Consumers can offset a particular activity, such as a flight; their emissions over a period of time, such as their annual car mileage; or across their entire lifestyle or business, including all of the gas and electricity they consume and their emissions from transport.

3. Carbon offsetting involves calculating emissions and then purchasing equivalent credits from emission reduction projects that have prevented or removed the emission of an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide somewhere else.

4. Certified credits are those emission reduction credits that come from the existing compliance market, that is Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), EU Allowances (EUAs) and Emission Reduction Units (ERUs). The Kyoto compliant sector refers to emission reduction projects and measures provided for under the Kyoto Protocol. These are collectively known as 'flexible mechanisms' and consist of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Joint Implementation (JI) and international emission trading schemes. Countries with Kyoto targets to reduce their emissions can use the flexible mechanisms to help them achieve those targets. More information is available at http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climatechange/internat/kyotomech/index.htm.

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