Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Government unveils Carbon Offsetting Fund to combat emissions created by civil servants' flights

Sarah Griffiths, BusinessGreen, 12 Nov 2007

The government last week unveiled a new carbon offsetting fund, designed to offset the transport-related carbon emissions generated by a wide range of different public sector departments and organisations, including central government departments, Transport for London and the Royal Household.

DEFRA said government-funded projects will be undertaken in the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, India, China and Brazil that "would ensure that the carbon footprint of Government air travel was neutralised by ensuring emissions were avoided elsewhere".

It added that the government fund, which will be managed by EEA Fund Management Ltd, is the first of its kind in the world and will offset all official air travel from central government since 2006 and all future air travel emissions from up to 40 public sector organisations.

"This kind of offsetting is a good way to deal with unavoidable emissions," said Jamal Gore, managing director of offsetting company Carbon Clear. "Without funding from carbon credits, many worthwhile clean energy projects in the developing world would simply not prove cost-effective."

However, Greenpeace spokesman Charlie Kronick argued the new fund would have minimal impact. "This is just plain hypocritical of the government," he said. " Off-setting is a book-keeping trick that can't stop climate change, because once you've burned jet fuel at altitude there's absolutely nothing you can do to stop your emissions changing the climate."

Environment Minister Phil Woolas admitted that offsetting was not a panacea, but argued it still had a valid role to play in tackling climate change. " Offsetting emissions from transport isn't the answer to climate change," he accepted. "However, it's right that we are leading by example and offsetting every ton of CO2 emitted through projects that avoid emissions in developing countries, create jobs and improve the local standard of living."

Original article courtesy of Business Green