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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Signs of an Inflexion Approaching

There are tensions within government and business on both sides of the Atlantic in emissions reduction. I think it is a good sign, and one that reflects government and business moving up another notch in the seriousness with which they take emissions reduction.

On March 1, the Washington Post carried an article that referred to the House of Representatives abandoning a plan to make its offices carbon neutral. The article raised the uncertainties around what it really means to buy offsets and the lack of a widely accepted standard for carbon neutrality.

At the end of February the EPA issued new guidance for Green Power Partners raising minimum levels, clarifying and tightening rules around new renewables and future RECs, and clarifying rules about which party can make green power claims especially at leased facilities.

Similar things are happening on the other side of the Atlantic too. In the UK, DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) has issued new rules for carbon accounting that change the dynamics of how carbon reductions can be accounted and claimed. A number of companies, including BT and Tesco are questioning these rules and the impact they will have on development of renewables.

Government and business are taking the conversion to renewables more seriously than ever and looking more closely at how they are accounted for and credited. I think the dynamics of the examples above and their coincident timing are a healthy sign. These are important debates that should be happening and should be resolved in a way that best provides incentives for the development of renewables and reduction of emissions. We have some way to go, but we are approaching an inflexion in how we quantify and act on carbon emissions reduction.

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