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Quality Assurance Scheme for offsetting lives on

Carbon Retirement is part of a coalition of carbon offset providers that today announced that they will keep flying the flag for high quality offsets despite the closure of the Government scheme that supported them.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change made the surprise announcement last month that their Quality Assurance Scheme for carbon offsetting would close with effect from 30 June 2011, giving one month notice to organisations accredited under the scheme.

In a letter sent to providers accredited by the Scheme, reasons cited for removal of the Scheme were a “need to align limited resources with departmental priorities” and the “disappointingly low take-up” of the scheme by businesses since it was launched in 2009.

Only four UK offset providers met the requirements of the scheme, which was established to provide consumers with a “shortcut to purchasing high quality offsets”.  These providers were Clear, Carbon Footprint, Pure the Clean Planet Trust and Carbon Retirement. The scheme also accredited offsets sold by British Airways and E.ON as part of their wider offering to their customers.

Today, these four offset providers announced that they would continue to adhere to the strict requirements of the scheme [visit www.qascarbonoffsetting.com]. These include using best practice methods for calculating carbon footprints, making pricing transparent, ensuring full auditability of the offset process and buying only high-quality offset credits.

Bruce Elliot, Director of Clear, said,

“The Government supports our desire to uphold the high standards that have been set for the industry. Picking up the baton where the government left off is in keeping with David Cameron’s philosophy on how business can provide the lead while still working collaboratively with the public sector.”

Jane Burston, Director of Carbon Retirement, said,

“The offset market is a confusing place with an array of options, standards and risks. It's absolutely essential for businesses and consumers that there is an independent standard that verifies both high-quality offset credits and best practice in delivering those offsets. We are working towards finding a partner who can help us to deliver that independence.”

Robert Rabinowitz, Company Secretary of Pure, said,

“PURE signed up to the original scheme because of our commitment to the highest standards in offsetting. We're committed to ensuring we help to maintain those high standards.”

John Buckley, Managing Director of Carbon Footprint, said,

“The disappointingly low take up of the Government scheme is likely to be linked to its lack of public exposure. That’s why we’ve committed to both continuing the standards set by the Government scheme and increasing the exposure and understanding of best practice.”

Notes

1. The Quality Assurance Scheme was introduced to provide a straightforward way for consumers and businesses to identify quality offsets. The Department of Energy and Climate Change website for the scheme states that, “By vouching for the quality of the offsets, the Scheme helps clear up the principle uncertainties involved in offsetting.”3

2. The "principle uncertainties" in offsetting are “additionality” (the extent to which the method provides emission reductions beyond business-as-usual), lack of transparency about where consumers money goes and fraud and risk of offset credits being sold more than once.

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