CO2 reduction

Controversial emissions agreement for the aviation industry

Michael Hahn, 15 Dec 16
The member states of the International Civil Aviation Organisation have reached the first ever binding agreement to curb emissions in the sector. The agreement makes aviation the first ever industry to be subjected to globally applicable climate protection measures.

The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), developed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), aims to keep carbon emissions from international aviation at 2020 levels from 2021, despite a predicted rise in passenger numbers. According to ICAO – a UN agency – implementation will begin in 2021, remaining voluntary until 2027. 65 nations, including all EU member states, have declared their intention to take part in the scheme. From 2027, CORSIA will be implemented with binding effect by all 191 ICAO members until 2035, requiring any emissions above the agreed limit to be offset via a global market system.

The agreement makes aviation the first ever industry to be subjected to globally applicable climate protection measures. While CORSIA has been hailed as a “historic moment” within the sector, environmental organisations have lambasted the scheme. “This instrument will not reduce emissions, as the title would have us believe, but simply offset further increases. What is more, it will only become binding in 2027, not 2021,” said Christoph Bals of Germanwatch. “In addition, the scheme only covers CO2 emissions, which in aviation merely account for around a third of the warming caused.” Environmental organisation Robin Wood denounced the agreement as “greenwashing with the  UN’s stamp of approval.”

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