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February 6, 2021
Harold Goodwin
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The "Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation"
CORSIA covers international routes between participating states. In general, participation is mandatory for all ICAO member states starting in 2027. Some states are exempt:

  • States whose individual share of international aviation activities in 2018 is below 0.5 per cent
  • States that are not part of the list of States that account for 90 per cent of total aviation activity when sorted from the highest to the lowest
  • Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs)

From 2021 to 2026, the scheme is voluntary. Any country, including exempt countries, can opt-in during that time. CORSIA covers only routes between two participating states. Domestic flights, as well as flights from a participating country to a non-participant and vice-versa, are not covered. Private jests are also exempt. Based on these criteria, the  International Council on Clean Transportation calculated that CORSIA will cover the following shares of international aviation emissions:

1st Phase Voluntary Emissions 2021-2026 : International covered 36%; International exempt 28%; Domestic exempt 36%
2nd Phase Mandatory Emissions 2027-2035: International covered 52%; International exempt 11%; Domestic exempt 36%

Assuming an annual growth rate in aviation of 3.5%; fuel efficiency improvement per year of 2% &  2024-2026 traffic bounceback from Covid-19 effects they calculate that CORSIA carbon offsets will likely stay well below 1% of operating costs.  Full details of data sets and methodology

"A study for the European Commission in 2016 found that 85% of the projects in the Clean Development Mechanism, one of the main offset programs approved by CORSIA, were overestimating the greenhouse gas emissions they saved. A 2019 investigation by the US investigative journalism outlet ProPublica uncovered projects in Cambodia where forests protected by carbon offset schemes had, in fact, been chopped down."

"A report by the NewClimate Institute for the German Environment Agency in 2019 found that more than 80% of potential offset projects in four programs used by CORSIA were overstating their impact because they would have taken place whether the credits were sold or not. The ICAO later limited its eligible projects for the pilot phase to exclude those that started crediting before 2016. It also rejected several applications from offset programs that did not meet the standards of its technical advisers.

"While they may offer customers some peace of mind, traditional carbon offsets do almost nothing to tackle the emissions from flying," said United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby, in a LinkedIn post in December pledging to fully cut the company's greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. "And, more importantly, they simply don't meet the scale of this global challenge."

ICAO says that  updated figures on the cost and quantity of CORSIA offsets were unavailable because of the rapidly changing situation. But even with this uncertainty, the cost to airlines will be negligible. ICAO's official CORSIA FAQ states that "airlines have managed to cope with oil price volatility more than 15 times the size of the estimated offsetting cost."

Source: www.dw.com/en/corsia-climate-flying-emissions-offsets


CAPA - Centre for Aviation, part of the Aviation Week Network, is one of the world’s most trusted sources of market intelligence for the aviation and travel industry. Our unrivalled reputation for independence and integrity means you get the whole story, with powerful data and in-depth insights on the news, issues and trends that are shaping our industry.

2020  September 08 Aviation’s strategic myopia may be counter-productive  Chris Lyle 
Since Kyoto in 1997 CO2 emissions from international aviation have doubled and currently match the total emissions of the 129 lowest emitting countries combined, ranking just behind Canada and ahead of Indonesia and Mexico.

Their view is that " with its action “to safeguard CORSIA” in June ICAO has actually weakened the international aviation contribution. In the words of The Economist “a carbon-intensive industry has defanged an already mostly toothless scheme”.

CORSIA is also fragile and, being based on ICAO Assembly Resolutions and implemented through ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices, it will at no point be binding under international law. June’s baseline decision was an ICAO precedent in that it was taken on the basis of a majority vote in the Council rather than through consensus.

ChinaIndiaRussia and South Africa amongst others are by no means committed to CORSIA. The Scheme cannot currently be considered as a significant emissions mitigation measure."

CORSIA aside, 23 years after being given its Kyoto mandate, ICAO still has no long term global aspirational goal for mitigation of international aviation emissions, although for the past ten years it has been “exploring the feasibility” of one. The time and opportunity have come for responsibility for global climate policy on international aviation to be passed from ICAO to the UNFCCC. ICAO should certainly no longer be allowed to continue as the sole regulatory policy framer for international aviation emissions - individual countries should be free to take their own action. ICAO’s role should be one of technical advice and “Monitoring, Reporting and Verification“, not one of policy.



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