Published on Thursday, January 18, 2007

Silverjet attacks government carbon offset standards

Silverjet has criticised government plans establish new criteria for carbon offsetting schemes.

The start-up all business class carrier, which makes it first flight from Luton to New York next week, claims to be the world"s first airline to go completely carbon neutral by including a mandatory carbon offset contribution within its ticket prices in a scheme developed with climate change consultants the CarbonNeutral Company.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs is to name four providers that meet its new criteria to bring "greater clarity" to the industry - including Pure, Global Cool, Equiclimate and Carbon Offsets, the BBC reported.

Environment secretary David Milliband told the BBC the new criteria would help consumers choose offsetting projects that entail "genuine" emission cuts.

But Silverjet CEO Lawrence Hunt, CEO of Silverjet, said: "We do not believe this is the best way to generate an effective take up of offset schemes."

And he warned that consumers may wrongly think they have already paid towards offsetting emissions through the doubling of Air Passenger Duty from next month.

Hunt said: "The scheme Defra is proposing includes only so-called industrial-type Certified Emission Reductions ("CERs"). We believe that Verified Emission Reductions ("VERs") have a real role to play in catalysing action on climate change, as these are far better suited to engaging the public and thus dealing with the issue of carbon offsets.

"VERs are more motivational for the consumer as they promote smaller scale and community projects which promote innovation and entrepreneurship in developing countries.

"An example of a VER project is a solar panel programme in India - where solar panels replace kerosene burners (the carbon-heavy but cheap fuel of choice).  That"s better for health, the climate and local wealth.

"CERs are designed to be used by countries to meet their Kyoto reduction targets.  So in leveraging business to offer CERs to the public, the worst case scenario is that this is just a back door way of Government being able to get more money out of the consumer purse - for a job they should be doing themselves.

"This could result in the environmental cause receiving only 50p in the pound after the cost of bureaucracy and government administration is deducted.

"Is it any surprise that the traders - who are concerned with money rather than climate at the end of the day - are the ones who are quoted as supporting this move from Defra."

He added: "An additional problem is that Defra"s scheme comes on top of the Treasury"s doubling of APD.

"This is a tax camouflaged as a green initiative, and it may well mislead passengers into thinking that they have already paid to offset the carbon emissions of their trip, thus reducing the attractiveness of carbon offset schemes further.

"In addition, APD substantially limits the appeal to airlines to sign up to either Defra"s scheme or their own carbon offset projects when they already have to swallow increased costs and fare rises as a result of the tax."

"It would be far better for Government to roll back its APD tax and allow the continued development of VERs, and thus let some integrity, clarity and effectiveness into the matter of addressing carbon emissions."

He called for all airlines to become carbon neutral.

"If the industry was to simply charge its customers 90p for each hour they fly on average, then they could neutralise the carbon pollution created by the aviation industry," said Hunt.

*TravelMole's first Travel Industry Question Time of 2007 tackles the issue of how green is the travel industry this afternoon from 16.30 at the London Hilton Park Lane. See tomorrow for a full report.

Report by Phil Davies


Story Image

Your Comments (3)

, be the first to post a comment.
Your email:

Email other comments made to this story

NOTE: Comments are subject to admin approval before being posted.
  • Standards and Clarity

    Standards are to be encouraged, but it is vital that the creation of new standards announced today reflect consumer sentiment and understanding. The consultation doucment suggests a key role for CERs (Certified Emissions Reductions) in any government standard product offering. We offer certified products at the moment as part of our product range, but the take up is low despite there being no price differential with other products. Consumers want to take action that they understand, and only as they become more aware will they readily embrace more complex traded products like CERs and EUAs and ERUs. We are fully subscribed to the view that offset is not a solution in itself, but a key part of the strategy to stabilize atmospheric carbon, with reduction in emissions being the first objective. However, there will be concerns that a standard based upon CERs will punish the voluntary sector where some excellent work is being done by charities and NGOs to provide VERs (Voluntary Emissions Reductions). The offset market caters for the desire for direct action by companies and consumers. As David Milliband is quoted by the BBC (11/12/06) " you cannot just rely on the state". This leaves non state action and as with any good or service provision consumers have a right to know that their offset money is being spent correctly. So the government are right to try and provide clarity for consumers and it is hoped that this will extend to greater clarity on the precise use by government of the proceeds of the recently increased APD. Is this being reprocessed into CER offsets, or tangible emissions reduction initiatives? It would also be reassuring for consumers if the government were to clarify this and provide ring fencing for "green" taxes?

    By Hugo Kimber, Thursday, January 18, 2007

  • First carbon-neutral airline?

    Although it is admirable that Silverjet is carbon-neutral (no mean feat for an airline), I think that their claim to be the "world's first carbon neutral airline" is taking things too far. They announced on 26 November 2006 that they would be going carbon-neutral, yet Nature Air, one of Costa Rica's domestic airlines, has been operating a zero emissions flying programme since January 2006. While I understand that this airline's impact on the UK travel market is pretty minimal, this does not mean that Silverjet should take credit for something which they pioneered.

    By Tim Fearn, Thursday, January 18, 2007

  • Silverjet support

    I have to say that after investigation of the topic, which I must admit previously I was sadly un informed, I agree that the way to engage the general public is to identify clear and benefitial projects that are reasonably easy to achieve, and which will not get tangled up in political slight of hand. Full marks to Silverjet, you've made at least one convert in me.

    By Peter Tamblin, Thursday, January 18, 2007

What is GoodtoGo? | Submission Form

GoodtoGo - Friday, March 27th
UK Special Edition
USA Special Edition
Asia/Pacific Special Edition

GoodtoGo - Friday, March 20th
UK Special Edition
USA Special Edition
Asia/Pacific Special Edition

GoodtoGo - Friday, March 13th
UK Special Edition
USA Special Edition
Asia/Pacific Special Edition

Mole Poll
Are the UK Government doing enough to protect the Travel industry?
yes 49.92 %
no 50.08 %

Thank you for your vote


Centara Reserve, their first luxury resort, to open in Samui December 2020

Active Adventurers, Cultural Explorers, and Wellness Seekers in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah

Clearwater Marine Aquarium talks about Rescue Rehab Release and the future of Marine Life

Dana Young CEO and President of @visitflorida

The Mole talks to Mal Barrit the MD of @traveltek about expansion, tech and strategy