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Code for offsetting products unveiled

The Government has unveiled its framework for the Code of Best Practice for consumer offsetting products.


The voluntary code, which was launched last week, was established to clear up the confusion surrounding the integrity of carbon offsetting products hitting the UK market.


Last year, a national newspaper investigation revealed that consumers were spending huge amounts on schemes which yielded questionable environmental benefits.


Under the code, carbon offsetting providers can decide whether to seek accreditation for some or all of their offset products. AEA, has been appointed as the accreditation body for the code, and will issue the final draft of the code for industry comment on accreditation procedures.


 The quality mark associated with the work is currently being developed, and will be ready to be used when the first products are accredited later this year.


The Government hopes that the code will provide the benchmark by which consumers who choose to offset their carbon emissions via the kite-marked scheme, can do so safe in the knowledge that it is environmentally responsible.


Friends of the Earth (FoE), however, described the initiative as misleading and counter productive. The environmental campaigning group agreed that the Code might be effective in helping consumers make the most ethical choices when it comes to offsetting their carbon emissions.


However, it said it could be counter-productive by encouraging consumers to believe that any amount of energy consumption is acceptable as long as they buy offsets.


Mary Taylor, FoE’s climate change and energy campaigner, said: “Carbon offsetting products cannot substitute for cutting emissions here and now.


“This code will still allow offsets to be sold for our increasingly polluting lifestyles – such as sports utility vehicles and flying on extra weekend holidays. Even the Government acknowledges that offsetting is not a cure for climate change.”