Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Toward Oversight of Voluntary Carbon Offsets

Voluntary carbon offsets remain a growing yet unregulated business and two additional efforts are underway to oversee the burgeoning field.

First is the recent announcement of a new Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) for carbon offsets is intended to boost the sector's credibility and help to drive rapid growth in voluntary offsetting. The VCS covers "reductions in all six gases regulated by Kyoto."

"Carbon offsetting is growing rapidly but remains controversial. The VCS aims to counter this by guaranteeing that certified offset projects reduce carbon emissions, and that reductions are measurable, additional, permanent, verified and are not double counted."

"Guarantees made about the VCS include: certified offsets will have environmental benefits, the VCS will stimulate greater innovation and investment in a wider range of low-carbon technologies without compromising environmental integrity, and the public will be able to access information on every VCS-approved offset project."

Second, the Federal Trade Commission has announced they will hold a free public workshop on January 8, 2008 in Washington DC "to examine the emerging market for carbon offsets (i.e., greenhouse gas emission reduction products) and renewable energy certificates, and related advertising claims. The workshop will focus on consumer protection issues in these markets, such as consumer perception of carbon offset and REC advertising claims and substantiation for such claims." A live webcast of the workshop will be available.

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