The world's leading offset providers have begun to see early signs of a recovery in sales over the past few months, according to the International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance (ICROA) industry group, as corporate customers have begun to show a renewed interest in the concept of carbon offsetting.
Speaking to BusinessGreen.com, Edward Hanrahan, executive director at JP Morgan Environmental Markets and a founder of ICROA, said the organisation's members had seen clear signs of market interest "coming back" in the past two months.
"Some companies with respected reduction targets are struggling to meet them, " he explained. "I think people are again beginning to realise that offsets have a role to play."
However, he insisted that unlike the first wave of corporate interest in carbon offsets, many firms were now paying increased attention to the quality of the carbon credits they purchase. "Originally, people were only looking for brand empathy," he said. "But now they are increasingly more strategic and concerned with the quality of the offset. Clients are buying offsets on three-year programmes and they are seeking to establish the financial security of the offset providers."
He added that this increased focus in quality had been supported by the emergence of the ICROA, which was formed in June last year with the goal of establishing an industry code of best practice for high-quality carbon offsets.
"There were a number of people offering poor-quality offsets to some large companies," said Hanrahan. "The quality providers got together and agreed that we need some kind of trade alliance that puts blue water between quality and non-quality offsets."
All members of ICROA have to adhere to the organisation's code of practice, which requires them to measure carbon footprints using accepted international standards, set emissions reduction targets based on scientific assessments, use only credible offset projects, and set up an independent audit procedure for verifying the success of emission reduction projects.
The group has expanded since its launch, with three more offset firms joining the original eight founding members and taking ICROA members' share of the EU's voluntary emissions reductions market to more than 85 per cent.
ICROA also recently set up an independent advisory board, made up of respected industry experts and designed to guide policy for the group.
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