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Department of Energy and Climate Change, UK
18 January 2010

UK Government to continue offsetting its emissions through new contract

On Monday 18 January 2010, the Government is launching the second phase of its Carbon Offsetting Facility (GCOF II) which will offset emissions resulting from Government air travel and potentially other emissions created by public sector organisations. It will cover emissions generated in the period April 2009 to March 2012.  There is the possibility of extending it to March 2013.

The Government recognises a hierarchy of actions to combat the effects of climate change. The public, businesses and the public sector are all urged to take action on their carbon footprint by calculating emissions, avoiding emissions, reducing emissions and then, lastly, to consider offsetting. Offsetting mitigates the impact of emissions that cannot currently be avoided or reduced by leading to emissions reductions elsewhere in the world.

GCOF II will facilitate the purchase by Government Departments and other public sector organisations of Gold Standard or equivalent Certified Emissions Reduction (CER) credits under the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). All purchases will be quality assured under the Government’s Quality Assurance Scheme (QAS) on carbon offsetting, operated by AEA Group plc.

GCOF II is a framework agreement operated by the UK Government’s procurement agency, Buying Solutions, with 10 suppliers. Buying Solutions intends to conduct quarterly e-auctions for CER credits requested by participating public sector organisations.

Joan Ruddock, Minister of State at DECC, said:

“Today’s launch of the second phase of GCOF shows that Government is committed to addressing its carbon impact where emissions from air travel are a consequence of carrying out essential Government business. Offsetting has a legitimate role to play in managing emissions where they cannot be avoided or reduced.

Using Gold Standard or equivalent, Kyoto-compliant credits approved under the Government’s Quality Assurance Scheme for carbon offsetting not only means that the carbon impact of Government air travel is mitigated, but that the Government is continuing to support sustainable development in developing countries.”

Notes for editors:

  1. The commitment to offset Government air travel emissions was made by the Prime Minister in 2005.   The Government has also established a number of sustainable operations targets which are currently under review.  Beyond the air travel commitment, the targets include a commitment to carbon neutrality that may necessitate the purchase of carbon offsets.  See:http://www.defra.gov.uk/sustainable/government/gov/index.htm[external Link]
  2. The first phase of GCOF was designed to meet the Prime Ministerial commitment to offset Ministerial and official air travel emissions in central Government. The Government purchased 305,000 Certified Emissions Reduction (CERs) credits from Trading Emissions plc in respect of this first phase covering emissions from April 2006 to March 2009.  More information about the first phase of GCOF is available at: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/what_we_do/lc_uk/co2_offsetting/gov_offsetting/gov_offsetting.aspx
  3. More information about the Government’s quality assurance scheme for carbon offsetting, which is designed to help consumers choose a good quality offsetting scheme, is available at:


4.  More information about the Government Carbon Offsetting Facility is available on the DECC and Buying Solutions websites at:


5.  The 10 successful suppliers on the GCOF framework agreement are:

6. For further press enquiries, telephone 0300 068 5221.