CORSIA, the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, will stabilize emissions from international aviation from 2021.
CORSIA’s obligations have already started. As of 1 January 2019, all carriers are required to report their CO2 emissions on an annual basis.
The aviation industry is committed to technology, operational and infrastructure advances to continue to reduce the sector's carbon emissions. Offsetting is not intended to replace these efforts. Nor would the CORSIA make fuel efficiency any less of a day-to-day priority.
CORSIA & COVID-19
The unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on airlines has led IATA to propose that ICAO adapt the method used to determine the baseline of the CORSIA scheme.
Instead of using an average level of emissions taken from 2019 and 2020, IATA is calling for ICAO to use only 2019 emissions as the reference.
If the original methodology is applied, the baseline for the scheme will no longer reflect the target agreed by states at the 2016 Assembly, which IATA fears may lead them to reconsider their support for the scheme.
In addition, many airlines may not be able to afford to pay for the higher carbon offsets that would be required.
IATA estimates that emissions levels in 2020 could fall by a half following the collapse in travel demand which would lower the original baseline calculation to levels equivalent to the sector’s emissions in 2010.
As a result the baseline would be around 30% lower than originally expected which would result in significantly more offsetting when the recovery takes hold.
IATA believes it is vital to preserve the environmental benefits that were forecast to be achieved through CORSIA which includes carbon neutral growth from 2021.
An adjusted methodology will still produce a more stringent baseline than would have been the case without the COVID-19 crisis, although emissions levels may not reach the baseline in the early stages of what is expected to be a slow recovery for aviation.
A 2019 baseline limits the impact of the pandemic on financially struggling airlines and, critically, ensures continued political support from all states for CORSIA and the global approach.
ICAO is expected to consider the issue at its upcoming June session.
CORSIA Position Paper
The 2019 IATA AGM has reaffirmed the industry support for the CORSIA scheme. Michael Gill, Director of Aviation Environment, talks about the resolution that was discussed in Seoul.
Offsetting is an action by a company or individual to compensate for their emissions by financing a reduction in emissions elsewhere. Offsetting and carbon markets are a fundamental component of global, regional and national emissions reduction policies. They have operated for decades for compliance purposes and voluntary emissions reductions and continue to be an effective mechanism to underpin action against climate change.
There are many ways to achieve CO2 reductions that can be used as offsets, many of which bring other social, environmental or economic benefits relevant to sustainable development. Such offsets can be sourced from various types of project activities, including, for example, wind energy, clean cook stove, methane capture and other emissions-reducing or avoidance projects.
To ensure the environmental integrity of CORSIA, ICAO has adopted a list of emissions units that can be used for compliance. The decision is guided by eligibility criteria (link to emissions unit criteria) to guarantee that emissions units deliver the desired CO2 reductions. The criteria are based on principles commonly applied under existing trading mechanisms and well-accepted carbon offset certification standards.
See also Fact sheet on CORSIA and IATA's position on the avoidance of double counting under CORSIA (pdf).
Environmental impact of CORSIA
CORSIA is a global scheme. As a result, CORSIA will overall result in a greater CO2 mitigation in international aviation than any domestic policy for aviation can achieve. It is forecast that CORSIA will mitigate around 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 between 2021 and 2035, which is an annual average of 164 million tonnes of CO2. This represents an investment of about USD40 billion in climate projects (assuming that the price of carbon will increase from USD8 in 2021 to USD20 in 2035).
A multilateral approach
On 27 June 2018, ICAO adopted the international Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) for CORSIA as Annex 16, volume IV, to the Chicago Convention (link). The adoption of global standards for CORSIA will ensure the necessary level of uniformity in regulations which our industry needs. Uniformity is not only key to prevent market distortions, but also to preserve the environmental integrity of CORSIA.
Whilst emissions from domestic aviation are subject to country-specific actions and therefore fall under the scope of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, ICAO was mandated to address emissions from international flights.
International cooperation, including in addressing environmental impacts, is critical for a sector like aviation. This is why, in the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, states committed to collaborate in securing the highest practicable degree of uniformity in regulations and bring their domestic regulations in line with the international standards adopted by ICAO in Annexes to the Chicago Convention.
Avoiding the patchwork
In order to avoid a patchwork of uncoordinated regional and domestic policies for international aviation, political agreement for CORSIA was achieved on the condition that CORSIA would be the only market-based measure applied to international flights and on the basis that emissions should not be accounted for more than once.
Unfortunately, the success of CORSIA may be jeopardized by the national policies of some states. Of particular concern is that some states are applying or considering the application of a carbon pricing instrument or ticket tax to address emissions from international aviation, on top of CORSIA. Such policies are not only against the international commitments of these states, they also undermine multilateral efforts to deal with climate change and put at stake the credibility of the global approach, potentially compromising the international support for CORSIA at a critical time for its implementation.
See our factsheet on CORSIA and carbon pricing (pdf).
Guidance materials & support
Under CORSIA, all operators with annual emissions greater than 10,000 tonnes of CO2 will have to report their emissions on an annual basis, with monitoring starting from 1 January 2019 (international flights only). Resources are provided below to assist operators comply with CORSIA.
Please let us know if you wish to stay informed about CORSIA and receive regular updates on new capacity-support activities and materials. To sign up, please send us a brief message at email@example.com.
Airline Handbook on CORSIA
The IATA Airline Handbook on CORSIA is intended to provide information to airlines on the main elements of CORSIA and on requirements to comply with the scheme.
Download the IATA Airline Handbook on CORSIA: 4th edition, August 2019 (pdf).
You will also find additional guidance on CORSIA in the ICAO Environmental Technical Manual. It can be consulted on the ICAO website (link).
IATA has launched FRED+, an easy-to-use and intuitive platform to support and facilitate CO2 emissions reporting for aircraft operators and states. FRED+ is fully aligned and compatible with the CORSIA MRV requirements. The use of the platform is available free of charge to all aeroplane operators (including operators which are not IATA members) and administrating authorities. More information can be found on the dedicated FRED+ Webpage.