Carbon offsetting 'must be developed'

23-07-2007

Carbon offsetting 'must be developed'
Individuals, organisations and companies must do more to improve their efforts at carbon offsetting, a report has concluded.

The practice has been heralded as one way of helping to reduce climate change and involves companies and public bodies purchasing 'credits' from other bodies which have either prevented or reduced carbon emissions.

Individuals can also participate by offsetting one activity, such as a long-distance flight, through contributing to climate-change projects.

Today's report from the environmental audit committee acknowledges that although emissions need to reduced directly, "some emissions, at least in the short to medium term, continue to be unavoidable" and can be partly tackled through carbon offsetting.

The committee recommends that the government must give encouragement and advice to all groups of people to boost offsetting.

"The government must act quickly and the costs of this initiative must be borne principally by the offset industry itself, which will only benefit from increased market confidence and increased sales," the report states.

It adds that the clean development mechanism needs to be "less bureaucratic, less costly and less restrictive in terms of the methodologies, and the scale and nature of the projects, which it approves and permits".

The airline industry also comes under the spotlight, as the committee believes it "must consider itself duty-bound to develop robust and effective policies with regard to offsetting".

"The industry must engage with the government and accept that it needs to do more now to mitigate emissions from its planes and to encourage uptake of offsets amongst its customers as a matter of priority," the report concludes.

Responding to today's report, CarbonSense – which advises businesses on climate change strategy – described it as a "missed opportunity to reappraise the benefits and drawbacks of offsetting".

"Any business' primary focus when drawing up a climate change strategy should be to seek ways to reduce its own carbon emissions, and we must not as a society encourage businesses, or individuals or governments to effectively 'buy themselves a license' to continue damaging the atmosphere," a statement read.



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