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Carbon compensation with Portland Fuel Downstream Magazine -

Many customers want to be positively green and even considering the longer-term implications of the Covid-19 crisis, it seems unlikely that environmental concerns will disappear any time soon. Furthermore, the 2015 Paris Agreement enshrined into law the collective responsibility to cap global temperatures from rising below 2 degrees Celsius. This has not only focussed the minds of government legislators, but more importantly, consumers and customers. 2020 then, remains the absolute right time to get ahead of the pack and offer workable environmental solutions. 

UKIFDA has a key role to play in leading by example on climate change. The Association and its members deal in a carbon intensive industry, but they also recognise the need for change in order to play apart in the decarbonised future which is why UKIFDA has been lobbying for the inclusion of biofuels in Government solutions pushing to acknowledge that customers cannot simply change their fuelling habits overnight. There is no obvious and immediate “silver bullet” that can be applied to the environmental conundrum; construction, transport, agriculture and domestic heating are all going to rely on liquid fuels for many years to come. So what to do in the meantime to reduce our carbon impact?

UKIFDA wants to take the initiative and demonstrate that behaving in an environmentally conscious way is not only possible but can also be done in a beneficial way to members and customers alike. Therefore, they have partnered with Portland Fuel to offer a ground-breaking and unique carbon compensation programme to all their Members (Full and Associate) in both the UK and Ireland. The Portland Carbon Compensation scheme (similar to the more commonly used term “Carbon Offsetting”) is simple and affordable, whereby Voluntary Carbon Units (VCU) are generated, that help neutralise the carbon footprint of the liquid fuel industry.

The first step in the process will be for UKIFDA members to calculate their carbon footprint. This can be done quickly and easily through Portland’s Carbon Calculator (https://portlandgreen.co.uk/offsetting/). Simply put in the fuel grade, annual fuel usage, and percentage of CO2 emissions you would like to reduce, and this will give you an equivalent CO2 tonnage emitted by the fuel in question. The same process can be followed if UKIFDA members want to calculate the carbon footprint of their customers, based on sales volumes.

With that CO2 volume in mind, members can then purchase VCU’s from Portland. These VCUs represent an investment in a Portland emissions reduction project, which has been pre-vetted, verified and authorised by one or more UN-aligned CO2 Standards Agencies. Portland’s first project in this scheme is the community-led tree planting project in Kenya (TIST East Africa; https://program.tist.org/).

How does a Portland carbon project differ to the many other Carbon Offset programmes on the market? Well Portland projects must meet five key sustainability criteria, the first of which is that they are verified by globally audited and regulated bodies. Furthermore, Portland Carbon Compensation programmes aren’t just approved by one such body, but instead comply with all the major verification standards including the Carbon Gold Standard, Verified Carbon Standard, Climate Action Reserve, and American Carbon Registry. All of which are globally recognised and backed by the international carbon reduction trade association (ICROA = International Carbon Reduction & Offset Alliance; www.icroa.org).

In addition to this requirement, Portland carbon projects must also be additional, ie, a brand-new project that isn’t already happening or wasn’t going to happen anyway. Next, the projects must be voluntary (ie, not taking place simply because they are legislatively required) and permanent; after all, no CO reduction scheme is going to be effective unless it is going to last many years. Finally, there must be no incremental CO2 emissions created by each of our carbon compensation projects – that would certainly be an own goal!

Once Portland VCU’s have been purchased, they are then “retired” so that they cannot be used again and Portland will provide customers with certification to say that the VCU’s have been allocated to a specific project, that a designated amount of CO2 has been removed from the atmosphere and that the units cannot be sold again (this is evidenced by a Carbon Retirement Number). The VCU’s can either be applied at company level (eg, a fuel distributor) or consumer level (eg, a customer of a fuel distributor).  

Portland believes that the UKIFDA Carbon Compensation programme is the best available programme open to UKIFDA Members who want to offer schemes that provide environmental solutions now whilst the Trade Association, its industry partners and its Members continue to encourage Governments to engage with a transition to cost effective and consumer focused bio liquid fuels.

This article originally appeared in the April 2020 edition of UKIFDA’s Downstream Magazine.