Government turns to Burges Salmon for carbon trading scheme

Burges Salmon has landed a role advising the Government on its carbon offsetting policy for Government official and ministerial air travel.

The firm advised the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on the drafting and negotiation of a scheme designed to reduce the impact of carbon emissions.

The Government will buy emissions from Trading Emissions, a closed-end investment company managed by EEA Fund Management, and will place them in the Government Carbon Offsetting Fund (GCOF). The GCOF is also managed by EEA Fund Management.

Instead of trading the allowances it buys, GCOF will cancel them to remove them from the emissions trading market.

Environment minister Phil Woolas said paying to neutralise emissions arising from projects in developing countries such as Thailand and Vietnam would mean that emissions generated by Government air travel could be offset.

Burges Salmon was instructed by Defra legal counsel Andrew Schults and worked with Martin Hession and Oliver Parish of Defra’s international climate change and global carbon markets team on the purchasing of the emissions.

The Burges Salmon team was led by cross-departmental emissions trading team head Georgie Messent, associate Graham Soar and solicitor Robert Triggs.

Soar said: “Defra did not want a normal carbon offsetting scheme. It was relying on a third-party supplier to provide certified emission reductions from developing countries. It was a very bespoke contract and we had to make sure the right contacts were in place.”

The voluntary carbon offsetting fund will bring 40 Government organisations under the carbon-offsetting scheme.

EEA Fund Management was advised by Norton Rose partner John Wood and senior associates Graham Stuart and Andrew Hedges.