November 26, 2020

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Historic agreement reached to curb international aviation emissions

Historic agreement reached to curb international aviation emissions
Photo courtesy of Phillip Capper [<a href="">CC BY 2.0</a>], <a href="">via Wikimedia Commons</a>

A new global market-based measure (GMBM) to control carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from international aviation was announced yesterday at the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) headquarters in Montreal, Canada. The agreement came after nearly two weeks of talks at ICAO, the United Nations agency that oversees the industry.

The international aviation sector is growing at 4-5% per year and even with ongoing fuel efficiency improvement of 1-2% per year, the sector’s emissions are expected to grow in the coming years.

The global market-based measure is called CORSIA for Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation. It was designed to complement the basket of mitigation measures the air transport community is already pursuing to reduce CO2 emissions from international aviation. These include technical and operational improvements and advances in the production and use of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation. But due to strong growth, these improvements will not be enough to bring down the sector’s emissions. The CORSIA system is aimed at helping the sector achieve carbon-neutral growth after 2020.

The system will require airline operators to buy carbon-offset credits to match any growth in emissions above
their 2020 level.

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.

“It has taken a great deal of effort and understanding to reach this stage, and I want to applaud the spirit of consensus and compromise demonstrated by our member states, industry and civil society,” said ICAO Council President Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu.

“Air transport is not only the world’s first major industry sector to adopt a global approach to international
emissions reduction, but very importantly states representing more than 83% of international flight operations
have volunteered to participate in the GMBM from its earliest stages in 2021,” he said.

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