New Government guidelines in place to help businesses offset carbon emissions

New voluntary guidelines have been launched by the Government for companies that want to offset carbon emissions - but not everyone is onboard. 

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The Government’s launched new guidelines for companies who want to offset their emissions. Source: 1 NEWS

Air New Zealand's head of sustainability Lisa Daniell showed 1 NEWS a corporate carbon sink forest, offsetting emissions from flights. 

"This area is locked up permanently... there's going to be forestry here for at least 100 years."

Other business that want to follow in Air New Zealand's footsteps will have access to broad guidelines. 

Climate Change Minister James Shaw said businesses are increasingly under pressure from customers that want to know they were "doing the right thing". 

"You've got to be transparent about the methodology so people can critique it," he said. 

The guidelines state a company's carbon offset programmes should be transparent, measurable, not double counted and permanent.

However, the carbon emission offset schemes are not without controversy, with some environmentalists questioning the effectiveness, while other critics say it is a way for wealthy people to offset guilt. 

National's climate change spokesperson Scott Simpson said the Government needed to do more than just provide "guidance".

"In medieval times, people used to be able to buy indulgences, buy their way out of sin and this is kind of like the modern equivalent of buying your way out of carbon emissions by planting a tree instead.

"New Zealand's carbon issues are not solved by just planting the entire country in trees."

Mr Shaw said the guidelines were not a "get out of jail free card" for business. 

It comes as a growing movement urges people to boycott air travel to combat worsening climate change.

A small number of New Zealanders are turning away from air travel - known as the 'Fly Less Kiwis'. The movement originated from the group 'Flygskam' (Flight Shaming or Stay on the Ground) in Sweden.

Physics professor Dr Shaun Hendy told TVNZ1's Breakfast he considered not flying to be the "single biggest thing I could do that would make a difference". 

Leading the Flyskam movement in Sweden, Maya Rosen told TVNZ1's Q+A their campaign urged 100,000 people to not fly for a year. 

"I would have loved to see New Zealand but I would much more love for my children to have a future," she said. 

Both share concerns about offsetting carbon schemes. 

"It's sort of an easy way out that you can buy yourself free of your carbon emissions - and you really can't," Ms Rosen said.

However, demand for offsetting carbon is increasing. 

Air New Zealand's Lisa Daniell said they had gone from less than 100 bookings a month offsetting carbon, to more than 10,000.