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Norway Mall Offers Shoppers Greenhouse Gas Credits
Story by John Acher
NORWAY: February 19, 2008
OSLO - Half a kg of salmon; two kg of potatoes; a tonne of greenhouse gas reductions -- shoppers at one Norwegian mall can now buy cuts in their carbon footprint as they pick up their weekly groceries.
The Stroemmen Storsenter shopping centre outside Oslo began selling the certificates on Saturday, at 165 Norwegian crowns ($30.58) per tonne, to people who feel bad about contributing to climate change.
By midday on Monday, its second day of offering the UN-approved Certified Emissions Reductions, it had sold more than a third of the 1,000 CERs on offer and would consider buying more if they sell out, the mall's managers said.
They said the certificates were bought by private individuals and by small firms wanting them for their employees.
One CER corresponds to a tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reductions via the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which allows those in rich countries to invest in emissions cutting projects in developing nations and count the cuts as their own.
Each Norwegian accounts for about 11 tonnes of greenhouse gases every year, mainly from burning fossil fuels.
"Many people want to buy reductions, but until we started this in the shopping mall, they haven't known where to get them, but now they are available to everybody," said Ole Herredsvela, the shopping centre's technical manager.
"We are doing this also to create awareness among people towards the problem (of climate change)," he said.
Up until now households have been able to obtain emissions credits mainly when buying airplane tickets, with the airlines buying them on behalf of passengers or through various credit card schemes offsetting the carbon footprint of card purchases.
Over-the-counter sales are something new.
Norway's third-biggest shopping centre is not making money from the sales, but rather is selling them at cost plus a 10 percent administration fee which goes to its partner, Norwegian carbon management services firm CO2focus, Herredsvela said.
CO2focus bought the CERs from Oxford-based EcoSecurities which has obtained them from its involvement in a wind power project in Maharashtra in India, company officials said.
"This is an offset where we sell a paper saying that this is proof that you have bought a UN-approved emissions credit, a CER, from this specific product," Per Otto Larsen, a partner at CO2focus, told Reuters.
One tonne of CO2 is roughly equal the emissions from 5,000 km (3,107 miles) driven in a car or about six average flights within the Nordic region, Larsen said.
Larsen said CO2focus has found wide interest in obtaining emissions reductions among its clients -- companies such as taxi and bus services, car leasing companies but also firms marketing consumer goods.
"We are working with companies so they can implement credits in their products," he said.
But selling directly to retail customers is a fresh idea.
"I think this is unique," Larsen said.
(Reporting by John Acher, editing by Anthony Barker)