Retailers to cut carbon footprints
Retail tycoon Sir Tom Hunter's West Coast Capital and Icelandic investor Baugur have backed a groundbreaking carbon offset project in Rwanda.

The scheme, launched by former US president Bill Clinton, is a joint venture between the Clinton-Hunter Development Initiative and the Rwandan government. It will involve reforestation and agroforestry, leading to cash crops for farmers. Baugur has committed£1 million a year to the programme.

Hunter said: 'This is an elegant means of assisting in delivering poverty alleviation, reforestation and export enablement, with the by-product being a verifiable carbon offset.'

West Coast Capital will offset 28,500 tonnes of carbon annually. Its retail businesses Wyevale Garden Centres, USC, Office, d2 and Qube are all buying into the offset scheme. West Coast will make changes at the businesses to reduce their carbon footprints and plans to switch its head office energy supply to wind power, subject to necessary planning approval.

Baugur executive chairman Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson added: 'With an increasing need to reduce carbon emissions and halt the progress of climate change, more and more consumers of energy - businesses and individuals alike - are searching for clean and sustainable energy sources and methods of production. In addition to the changes in lifestyle and business practices we can all make, carbon offsetting like this offers an appealing yet meaningful way to help manage climate change and in this case make a real and tangible difference to the lives of producers and farmers in the region. It's a global win-win situation and we are very proud to support it.'

A Wyevale spokesperson said: 'Wyevale is delighted to be associated with this excellent project. Our customers, almost by definition, are committed to the concepts of sustainability and care for the global environment and carbon responsibility.'

Announcing the scheme, Clinton said: 'This innovative programme in Rwanda is tackling three key issues: empowering farmers with a source of sustainable income, reforesting areas that have been deforested, and generating carbon offsets to address climate change. I'm delighted that the Clinton Foundation, the Hunter Foundation and the government of Rwanda are taking this step together with Rwandan farmers.'