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HomePublicationsCargo Tracker NewsletterJune 2018Reducing aviations carbon footprint

Reducing aviation's carbon footprint

Air transport as a whole represents 2% of global man-made carbon emissions. In 2017, civil aviation, as a whole, emitted around 859 million tonnes of CO2, which is roughly 2% of man-made carbon emissions. Ten years ago, aviation’s leaders signed the Commitment to Action on Climate Change with 3 ambitious targets and a 4-pillar strategy to achieve them:

  • An average improvement in fuel efficiency of 1.5% per year from 2009 to 2020
  • A cap on net aviation CO2 emissions from 2020 (carbon-neutral growth)
  • A reduction in net aviation CO2 emissions of 50% by 2050, relative to 2005 levels

The aviation industry is confident that improved technology (including the deployment of sustainable alternative fuels), more efficient aircraft operations and infrastructure improvements (including modernized air traffic management systems) measures will provide long-term solutions for aviation’s sustainable growth. However, the industry also recognizes that a global market-based measure (GMBM) is needed to fill any remaining emissions gap. This GMBM is called CORSIA: ICAO’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation.

Delivering on commitments 

  • Each new generation of aircraft is on average 20% more fuel efficient than the model it replaces and over the next decade, airlines will invest $1.3 trillion in new planes.
  • Airlines have continued to improve their fuel efficiency performance between 2009 and 2016. In 2016, fuel efficiency for total system-wide services (in liters per 100 RTK) stands at 35.28 liters per 100 RTK, an improvement of 10.2% compared to 2009.
  • Airlines already have a strong incentive to emit less: an airline reduces its fuel costs by approx. 225 USD for each tonne of CO2 it is able to avoid.

CORSIA: ICAO to adopt international standards for the monitoring of emissions

In June, the ICAO Council is to adopt the international standards and recommended practices for the implementation of ICAO’s CORSIA. The new standards will be adopted as Annex 16, Volume IV, to the Chicago Convention and apply in all ICAO Member States from 1 January 2019.

The decision to adopt a global market-based measure to address CO2 emissions from international aviation was made at the 39th ICAO Assembly in 2016. The agreement at ICAO demonstrates that aviation is determined to live up to its commitments and play its part in meeting international goals for emissions reduction. CORSIA aims to help address any annual increase in total CO2 emissions from international civil aviation above 2020 levels. It is estimated that, under CORSIA, aviation will have to offset 2.6 billion tonnes of CO2 between 2021 and 2035.

The aviation sector 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.  Rather, CORSIA can help the sector achieve its climate targets in the short and medium term by complementing emissions reduction initiatives within the sector.  

An environmentally effective option

Offsetting is an action by a company or individual to compensate for their emissions by financing a reduction in emissions elsewhere. While carbon offsetting does not require companies to reduce their emissions “in-house”, it provides an environmentally effective option for sectors where the potential for further emissions reductions is limited or the abatement costs are unduly high. Offsetting and carbon markets have been 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. Offsetting is also more effective than a tax, as a carbon tax merely requires companies to pay for their emissions, without any guarantees that the payment will lead to any emissions reductions. 

To comply with the new standards, 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). Already in 2018, operators will need to develop an emissions monitoring plan (EMP), which details the procedures that will be used to monitor fuel use, calculate emissions and manage data. 

Cargo airlines, register to one of the next free CORSIA workshops!

IATA will hold a series of workshops this summer to help operators prepare their emissions monitoring plans and get ready for 1 January 2019: Montreal (27-29 Jun); Cairo (10-12 Jul); Delhi (18-19 Jul); Geneva (24-26 Jul); Bogota (31 Jul-1 Aug); Singapore (7-8 Aug); Nairobi (14-16 Aug); and Moscow (4-5 Sep). Participation is free of charge and open to all airlines (including non-IATA members) and State authorities. For more information, visit www.iata.org/CORSIA  or contact us at corsia@iata.org


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