Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation

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CORSIA scheme

The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) is a carbon offset and carbon reduction scheme to lower CO2 emissions for international flights, to curb the aviation impact on climate change.

It was developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and adopted in October 2016. Its goal is to have a carbon neutral growth from 2020. CORSIA uses Market-based environmental policy instruments to offset CO2 emissions: aircraft operators have to purchase carbon credits from the carbon market. Starting in 2021, the scheme is voluntary for all countries until 2027.


The 1997 Kyoto Protocol include CO₂ emissions from airports and domestic aviation in its first period (2008–2012), but not international aviation CO₂ emissions or climate effects beyond CO₂. From 2009, Governments agreed to work for the Kyoto Protocol to reduce and to allocate international aviation emissions through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). An agreement was not reached during the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference.[1] Failure to reach an agreement could lead to the average global temperature rising above 2 °C, not avoiding dangerous climate change.[2][3][4]

In 2009, the air transport industry targeted a fuel efficiency improvement of 1.5% per year until 2020; carbon-neutral growth capping CO₂ emissions from 2020; and halving its CO₂ emissions by 2050 compared to 2005.[5] In 2010, international flights emitted 458 Mt of carbon dioxide.[6]


In October 2016, the 191 nations of the ICAO established the scheme, requiring operators to purchase carbon offsets to cover their emissions above 2020 levels, starting from 2021.[5] Forestry and carbon-reducing activities will be funded by 2% of the sector annual revenues, avoiding "double counting" of existing efforts.[7] CORSIA is voluntary until 2027, but many countries, including the US and China, promised to begin from the 2020 start.[7] The WWF saw carbon credits as credible, but the scheme appears insufficient in the long run while review periods are included.[7]

The agreement does not include an objective of containing global warming to 1.5-2 °C like the 2015 Paris climate agreement.[8] As emissions below 2020 levels are grandfathered, CORSIA will regulate 25% of aviation's international emissions.[9] CORSIA applies to international flights representing 60% of aviation emissions, and the initial voluntary period includes 65 nations, leaving out Russia, India and perhaps Brazil.[10] Advocacy group and observer Transport and Environment thinks CORSIA won’t reduce demand for jet fuel, while Greenpeace called it "a timid step in the right direction."[11]

Non-governmental organizations formed the Stay Grounded network in various countries during the 2016 ICAO conference.[12][13] Fifty organisations including Attac Europe, Friends of the Earth International, Global Justice Now, Greenpeace, and the Indigenous Environmental Network, among others, signed a petition against airport expansion.[14] One hundred organisations, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, signed a civil society statement rejecting ICAO’s aviation emissions offset scheme, as it would cause global warming to surpass 1.5 °C.[15]

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on aviation, the value of 2019 emissions will be used for the pilot phase of the CORSIA implementation from 2021 to 2023.[16]


On 15 February 2019, the ICAO announced an agreement on alternative fuels to reduce offsets, but details on how to reach the target of halving 2005-level emissions by 2050 remain elusive.[17] On 18 February, the European Council urged the ICAO to implement CORSIA swiftly and to “agree on a long-term goal at its next assembly” in September.[17] For the Air Transport Action Group, the ICAO could take three years to negotiate, until 2022.[17]

Fossil fuels produced from newer oil wells, or with some more efficient refinery processing will be eligible. Aviation biofuels from a variety of feedstocks including palm oil, the most likely source and a leading cause of deforestation, would be eligible for use.[18]


As of January 2018, more than 70 countries representing more than 85% of international aviation activity have volunteered to participate. India and Russia are yet to join CORSIA. India, which has four of the five carbon-neutral airports in the Asia-Pacific region[19] and the world's first fully solar powered airport, has drawn attention to "differentiated responsibilities" and the "need to ensure the transfer of financial resources, technology transfer and deployment and capacity building support to developing countries for enabling them to voluntarily undertake action plans.".[20]


Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing States and Landlocked Developing Countries can volunteer to participate in CORSIA, while it is not mandated on them. However, all ICAO member states "with aeroplane operators conducting international flights are required to monitor, report and verify carbon dioxide emissions from these flights every year from 2019".[21] All aeroplane operators with CO2 emissions less than or equal to 10,000 tonnes are exempted from the CORSIA reporting requirements.[22]

Emissions from domestic air travel are not included in CORSIA. ICAO states that "Emissions from domestic aviation, as other domestic sources, are addressed under the UNFCCC and calculated as part of the national GHG inventories and are included in national totals (part of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs))..."[23]


CORSIA is a market based mechanism to offset emissions: an airline would purchase carbon credits to offset its emissions.[24] The Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport of the european commission has described it as "a delicate compromise between all involved in its elaboration."[25] The scheme may address a significant part of emissions from the expansion of international aviation. Aviation related emissions are not capped.

Offsetting focuses on emissions trading rather than reducing emissions.[26] Forest offsets could predominate, but their effectiveness could be reduced by wildfires, droughts, pests, illegal logging and geopolitical dynamics, making it difficult to measure, verify or guarantee carbon sequestration.[27] Forest offset projects can result in human rights violations.[28] CORSIA may not be as stringent as the European Union Emission Trading Scheme.[29]

Neste is the largest producer of biofuels from Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil, the most mature and economically viable technology for commercial aviation biofuels, and relies on crude palm oil and palm fatty acid distillate.[30] Neste has decided to establish its aviation biofuel production in Singapore, in the largest palm oil producing region, linked to rampant deforestation.[30] Biofuels from palm oil could emit more CO2 than the replaced fossil fuels, and cause biodiversity loss.[31] CORSIA would create demand for aviation biofuel.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Christopher Surgenor, ed. (22 Dec 2009), "Copenhagen's failure to deliver an aviation emissions deal leaves sector facing an uncertain future", GreenAirOnline
  2. ^ "Planes and ships escape scrutiny in bottom-up climate regime", Climate change news, 22 December 2014, International aviation and shipping are not mentioned in the Lima call for climate action, despite growing emissions
  3. ^ Bows, A. et al. (Dec 2012), "Aviation and shipping privileged – again? UK delays decision to act on emissions" (PDF), Briefing Note No. 47, Tyndall Centre for Clim. Chg. Research{{citation}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  4. ^ Bows-Larkin, A (6 Dec 2014). "All adrift: aviation, shipping, and climate change policy". Climate Policy. 15 (6): 681–702. doi:10.1080/14693062.2014.965125.
  5. ^ a b Michael Gill (IATA) (May 2017). "Preparing for CORSIA Take-Off" (PDF). Greenhouse gas market report. International Emissions Trading Association.
  6. ^ Cames, Martin; et al. (November 2015). "Emission Reduction Targets for International Aviation and Shipping" (PDF). European Parliament, Directorate-General for internal policies. p. 48.
  7. ^ a b c Milman, Oliver (6 October 2016). "First deal to curb aviation emissions agreed in landmark UN accord". The Guardian. London.
  8. ^ Megan Darby (6 October 2016). "UN aviation pact will not be aligned with Paris climate goals". Climate change news.
  9. ^ "Weak Market-based Measure Allows Airplanes' Greenhouse Pollution to Triple" (Press release). Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth. 6 October 2016.
  10. ^ D. Hodgkinson & R. Johnston (10 October 2016). "The new UN deal on aviation emissions leaves much to be desired". The Conversation.
  11. ^ N. Prupis (6 October 2016). "Green Groups Warn Deal to Lower Aviation Pollution is 'Weak Shell Game'". Common Dreams.
  12. ^ "Aviation Campaign". System Change, not Climate Change!. Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  13. ^ "Stop Flying! Stay grounded international network launched to counter aviation". REDD Monitor. 19 October 2018.
  14. ^ FERN (September 2016). "Aviation industry plan to offset emissions will push global warming beyond 1.5° Celsius" (PDF). FERN.
  15. ^ "Stay Grounded". Guerrilla Foundation. Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  16. ^ "ICAO Council agrees to the safeguard adjustment for CORSIA in light of COVID-19 pandemic" (Press release). ICAO. 30 June 2020.
  17. ^ a b c Kerry Reals (Mar 1, 2019). "Long-Term Global Aviation Climate Plan Could Take Years To Negotiate". Aviation Week & Space Technology.
  18. ^ "'Green' fossil fuels to be allowed under latest weakening of UN aviation CO2 scheme". Transport and Environment. July 2, 2018.
  19. ^ "Airport Carbon Accreditation - ASIA PACIFIC". Archived from the original on 2018-03-24. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  20. ^ "Report" (PDF).
  21. ^ "Report" (PDF).
  22. ^ "CORSIA - The ICAO Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation - EBAA". Archived from the original on 2018-03-24. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  23. ^ "1. Why ICAO decided to develop a global MBM scheme for international aviation?".
  24. ^ "What is Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation?". IATA.
  25. ^ "Letter to the ICAO" (PDF). Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport. 2018-03-01.
  26. ^ "Carbon Footprints and The Travel Industry". The Guild of Travel and Tourism. 2018-02-07.
  27. ^ Jutta Kill (13 November 2017). "Unearned credit: Why aviation industry forest offsets are doomed to fail". FERN.
  28. ^ "Rights abuse allegations in the context of REDD+ readiness and implementation: A preliminary review and proposal for moving forward". Center for International Forestry Research. 2017.
  29. ^ "A comparison between CORSIA and the EU ETS for Aviation" (PDF). CE Delft. December 2016.
  30. ^ a b "Neste: The Finnish company preparing to put palm oil in aircraft fuel tanks" (PDF). Biofuel Watch. 9 January 2019.
  31. ^ "Why is palm oil biodiesel bad?". European Federation for Transport and Environment.

External links[edit]