Even the good companies sound like hucksters when they start talking about "RECs" and "TRCs" and "Scope 1" and "Scope 2" and "Green Tag" and "White Tag"...This industry is like the oil business in its boom era. It desperately needs standardization and regulation.
Offsetting chief warns of carbon cowboys
Terry McAlister, June 18, 2007 (UK Guardian Unlimited)
“Cowboy” operators in the carbon offset industry; Jonathan Shopley, CEO, the CarbonNeutral Company; Mark Kember, policy director, the Climate Group;
offsetting makes sense (click to enlarge)
In the absence of widely recognized standards, “carbon cowboys” are playing fast and loose with the idealistic and serious intentions of individuals and organizations seeking to offset their personal and institutional greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The Climate Group will launch an offset industry-wide standard in September.
The brands described in this article are British but the need for and abuses of GHG offsetting is worldwide.
- The basic idea: paying for an activity that reduces emissions can balance another which creates GHGs.
- Companies have been formed to facilitate the exchange.
- Offset schemes of dubious value are being sold.
- Offsetting may give businesses an excuse to emitting without restraint.
- The most valued investors may soon turn away.
- CarbonNeutral has created its own standards, verified by independent assessors.
- the Climate Group is a non-profit organization working with the World Economic Forum and other groups, to create an industry standard.
- The Carbon Trust, a UK-funded company advising businesses on GHG issues, recommends offsetting only after other measures have been used.
But beware seductive solicitation (click to enlarge)
- Shopley: "There are credibility issues and there are cowboys around…It is probably to be expected for an industry at this stage but we need a set of standards and outside verification so that self-regulation can engender trust and integrity in the market."
- Shopley: "We have doubled our revenues over the last financial year and whereas two years ago we would get one inbound call a week about offsetting, it is now over 100…"
- Kember: "There is a lot of confusion out there with people buying offsets without having the certainty that it will result in emission reduction…"
Francis Sullivan, environment adviser, HSBC Bank: "The police, the fraud squad and trading standards need to be looking at this…"