Clean Energy Industry Coalition Outlines Elements for Federal Greenhouse Gas Offset Program
Washington, DC – As Congress resumes consideration of key energy and climate change legislation this week, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) outlined design recommendations for a federal greenhouse gas offset program in a new policy paper.
“Facilitating emissions reductions that are cost-effective and efficient can help promote technological innovation, lower costs for consumers, generate immediate environmental benefits, and encourage participation of sectors and activities that do not fall under a cap-and-trade system,” said Lisa Jacobson, Executive Director of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “For this reason, an offset program – which recognizes the act of reducing or avoiding greenhouse gas emissions in one place in order to ‘offset’ emissions occurring
somewhere else – should be valued as an important design feature of federal climate change legislation.”
The paper, Recommendations for a Federal Greenhouse Gas Offset Program, was developed by BCSE members Econergy International, EcoSecurities, 3C Group, and NativeEnergy, who play a leading role in BCSE’s work on offsets.
"Rewarding early action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is an imperative element of any federal climate change policy,” said Marc Stuart, Director of Business Development with EcoSecurities. “Experience in other countries shows that, by granting credits to early movers that have real value and can be used for compliance or traded, governments can send a signal to companies that they will not be penalized for acting today to reduce their carbon emissions. In lieu of early action credits, companies will have little incentive to act before they are absolutely required to do so by law.”
“When structured properly, offsets have demonstrated that they will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and drive technology innovation, while at the same time lowering the overall cost of addressing rapidly advancing climate change,” said Mike Ashford, Senior Vice President, Carbon Markets with Econergy. “This is true for offsets recognized as early action credits and offsets counting towards specific reduction targets resulting from policy deliberation. Business, government and nonprofit entities know this from international experience, and we need
to move quickly within the U.S. to catch up with the rest of the world.”
“The United States is about to move forward in large steps, and will build on the experiences made in Europe,” said Dr. Sascha Lafeld, Managing Director of 3C Group, a leading carbon asset manager in Europe.
“This paper lays out an action plan to guarantee that the offset program will contribute sustainably to mitigating climate change by applying the highest standards in the voluntary carbon market.”
The paper outlines a range of key policies that will result in a comprehensive federal offset program. Specifically, the BCSE recommends that a federal offset program include the following elements:
- Emissions offsets must be real, additional, permanent, independently verifiable, enforceable, measurable, and transparent;
- Promote broad sector and activity eligibility for offsets;
- Permit broad use of emissions offsets;
- Reward early action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
- Promote linkages with other domestic and international offset programs, and permit fungible use of eligible offsets generated from within such programs;
- Utilize a standards-based approach for offset projects while allowing for case-by-case review of projects without pre-approved methodologies;
- Employ multiple tests for demonstration of offset “additionality”; and,
- Utilize standardized emission factors.
The full set of recommendations, including specific design elements for a federal greenhouse gas offsets program: