UK releases offset guidelines

New guidelines for carbon offsetting will do little to curb malpractice in the rapidly growing market for “carbon credits”, industry critics said on Tuesday.

The government issued draft guidelines more than a year ago, but their official publication was delayed until Tuesday after the FT revealed companies were profiting from selling carbon credits which were environmentally worthless.

The option of selling one form of such worthless credits, those issued under the European Union’s emissions trading scheme, is now closed. The government said on Tuesday companies and individuals following its new guidelines could be confident they were achieving their environmental goals.

Carbon credits are bought by those wishing to balance out the negative impact of their activities on the climate by funding low-carbon technology, such as wind farms or solar panels.

These projects are awarded credits, some of which are certified by the United Nations.

But credits without UN approval can also legally be sold, despite doubts about the validity of some.

The government’s new guidelines advise companies and individuals should only purchase UN credits, known as Certified Emission Reductions.

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