UN plans to expand carbon credits demand by enabling anyone to offset emissions

The UN climate change secretariat on Wednesday (July, 09) announced its staff members and their families will participate in a new campaign using UN-certified carbon credits (CERs) to address personal emissions.

Starting from July, they can offset their greenhouse gas emissions purchasing CERs produced by emission reduction projects in developing countries from the Adaptation Fund, which is funded by a two per cent levy on all issued CERs.

The initiative is aimed at “promoting a long-term vision of a climate neutral world while generating useful funding for vulnerable communities”, the agency wrote in a statement, adding that “in future, a similar campaign will look beyond the secretariat to include local governments, companies and individuals interested in achieving climate neutrality”.

Currently the main market for CERs is constituted by governments using UN carbon offsets in order to meet their emission reduction targets through the Kyoto Protocol’s  Clean Development Mechanism. Private companies also can use offsets, such as Brazilian enterprises and local branches of multinationals have done recently, donating more than half million CERs  to help reduce the carbon footprint of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

In the past few years swelling supply and lack of commitments to further emission cuts at global level have caused demand for CDM credits to shrink, with prices steadily falling from around €20 in 2008 to below 20 eurocents in the past few months.

No date has been set for the launch of the wider campaign to allow anyone to buy CERs easily through “a few clicks”,  UNFCCC spokesperson David Abbass told Thomson Reuters Foundation, but the CDM board is looking “for new sources of demand” and wants it “to happen fast”, he added.

According to Wednesday’s statement, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Christiana Figueres, said that offsetting GHG emissions “is not a silver bullet, nor an alternative to the deep and decisive emission reductions”, but it “has a part to play and in doing so can generate some of the funding needed for clean energy and adaptation projects in developing countries”.