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World first for NZ firm in climate change effort

16 April 2008

World first for New Zealand firm in climate change effort

A New Zealand law firm has today created a world first in carbon trading, purchasing the first ever Certified Emission Reduction units to be transferred between two countries.

Law firm Bell Gully will use the Gold Standard units, originating from a biomass project in India that uses crop residues to generate electricity, along with additional units it will purchase, to offset its own emissions and achieve carbon neutrality.

Partner and climate change practice leader Simon Watt says Bell Gully has been advising national and international companies on carbon trading for some time but in an emerging area of law there is no substitute for being directly involved.

Today the firm was involved in the first Certified Emission Reduction (CER) units transfer on the New Zealand Emission Unit Register. The units derived from Switzerland for the project in India were sold by New Zealand brokers Carbon Market Solutions.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, businesses in developed countries like Switzerland receive units from the United Nations for reducing emissions by investing in clean development or emission reduction projects in developing countries like India. Those units can then be used for compliance with the Kyoto Protocol or traded internationally so that another business such as Bell Gully, in this instance, can use the units towards offsetting its emissions.

Simon Watt says Bell Gully made a commitment in 2007 to take carbon reducing steps and as well as the offshore unit purchase has been introducing measures closer to home to achieve this. In March this year 1600 law students nationally received native trees to plant and directions to a website instead of the traditional printed brochure as part of the annual law firm summer clerk recruitment programme

Bell Gully is the first New Zealand law firm – and possibly globally - to offer a carbon neutral summer clerk law student programme. The emissions created by Bell Gully's 2008/09 summer clerk programme will be offset by Verified Emission Reduction units the firm has purchased from the Palmerston North Awapuni Landfill Gas Project.

The firm advised on the first Chicago Climate Exchange listing by a New Zealand company. Bell Gully is also the first and only law firm in New Zealand to be listed in the international legal guide Chambers Global 2008 as one of 12 leading international firms in climate change and Simon Watt is the first and only New Zealand lawyer to be listed in the same guide as one of 10 international legal experts in climate change.


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