ICAO adopts carbon offset for airlines

On October 6, a Plenary Session of the UN aviation agency’s (ICAO – International Civil Aviation Organization) 39th Assembly agreed to recommend adoption of a final Resolution text for the new global market-based measure (GMBM) to control CO2 emissions from international aviation.

ICAO’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) is designed to complement airlines’ independent mitigation measures to reduce CO2 emissions. These include technical and operational improvements and advances in the production and use of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation.

Implementation of the CORSIA will begin with a pilot phase from 2021 through 2023, followed by a first phase, from 2024 through 2026. Participation in both of these early stages will be voluntary and the next phase from 2027 to 2035 would see all States on board. Some exemptions were accepted for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and States with very low levels of international aviation activity. It’s the first global carbon offset system for a single industry.

In the draft Assembly Resolution text, the average level of CO2 emissions from international aviation covered by the scheme between 2019 and 2020 represents the basis for carbon neutral growth from 2020, against which emissions in future years are compared. In any year from 2021 when international aviation CO2 emissions covered by the scheme exceed the average baseline emissions of 2019 and 2020, this difference represents the sector’s offsetting requirements for that year.

The National Airlines Council of Canada said in a press release:

The National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC), the trade association representing Canada’s largest passenger air carriers, applauds the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for reaching an agreement
to implement a global carbon offset system and commends the Government of Canada for its role in reaching the accord.

(Sources: ICAO press release and What is CORSIA?; CBC News, 2016-10-07, “Historic agreement: Canada signs on to world’s 1st airline climate plan“)