In October 2016, The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) created the CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) framework. Currently 87 countries representing about 77 per cent of international aviation emissions have joined the initial three-year pilot scheme (2021-23) followed by a three-year voluntary scheme (2024-26). By 2027 CORSIA will be mandatory.
CORSIA works by setting a baseline of emissions – if the airline overshoots this they must buy equivalent carbon offsets. The hope is that this will incentivise airlines to be more efficient and it will inject more money into offset schemes. But will this really work? Originally, the baseline was to be calculated from a combination of 2019 and 2020 emissions, but the pandemic meant that airlines flew far less in 2020, so emissions were much lower. By starting at the higher 2019 baseline, the CORSIA scheme won’t kick off for at least 3 years, until the aviation sector recovers from the covid crisis. This in effect will be a disincentive for airlines to cut their carbon emissions.
A recent study (June 2021) commissioned by the European Commission came up with a number of controversial findings:
In summary, this raises some fundamental questions over the way forward for the aviation industry in its attempts to reduce carbon emissions, not least over whether governments should put a hard cap on aviation emissions and include them within the scope of overall climate targets. There are a range of other climate policy options which could be implemented to encourage the uptake of clean fuels and zero emissions aircrafts, such as introducing kerosene taxation and deploying sustainable fuel mandates, focusing on e-kerosene. Clearly a lot more needs to be done to help the aviation industry reach its “aspirational goal” to make all growth in international flights after 2020 “carbon neutral”.
Source: Transport Intelligence, August 26, 2021
Author: Julia Swales
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