UN aviation body delays decision on key rules for airline offset scheme
28 June 2018 – BRUSSELS. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Council approved part of the package of rules for its future aviation offsetting scheme (CORSIA) yesterday in Montreal. The Council postponed decisions on offset and biofuel criteria, fueling concerns that they may be weakened before the next Council meeting in September.
The 36 member countries of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Council currently negotiating in Montreal, adopted yesterday the Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) for their offsetting scheme.
The SARPs are only one element of the “CORSIA Package”. The detailed requirements for offsets and sustainable alternative fuels, considered by ICAO as “essential for the implementation of CORSIA” because they outline criteria for eligibility, are left for final approval at the next Council session in September.
Commenting on the delay in approving parts of the package, transport policy officer Kelsey Perlman said:
“The draft rules as they stand provide a good basis to avoid past mistakes of offsetting systems, where the majority of credits have made little-to-no impact in curtailing pollution levels. A delay of this decision could be dangerous if it means watering down these rules to allow substandard offset projects into the scheme. ”
A main point of contention concerned the process to determine eligible offsets, with China and Brazil reiterating their positions to disregard a centralized process for approving eligible offsets, and to provide automatic eligibility of credits from the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), respectively.
If there are no restrictions applied to the existing CDM credits, which have been lingering around for years as demand has plunged, there are enough credits to supply the entire demand of CORSIA, from now until the end of the measure in 2035 -approximately 3.3 billion tonnes of carbon.
“If airlines were allowed to buy offsets from climate projects undertaken years ago, no new carbon reductions would be achieved to compensate aviation’s growing pollution. This underlines the need for a date limiting eligible offsets under CORSIA, to prevent the threat of worthless credits from flooding the market.” said Perlman.
As stated in the Assembly Resolution establishing CORSIA the ICAO Council will need to decide on a ‘vintage’ date. This date establishes a cut-off year for CORSIA to render old projects ineligible. The ICAO Council is required to adopt remaining offset criteria before the end of 2018. Discussions on remaining provisions are set to reconvene in Montreal later in September.
Notes to editors:
- Explanation of the CORSIA Package structure found here on page 33
- Analysis of the CDM has shown that 85% of credits are unlikely to represent a reduction in CO2 compared to business as usual.
- Together Brazil and China make up over 60% of CDM offsets available on the market today.
- The CDM has produced the majority of offsets potentially available to the aviation sector with a potential supply of 4.7 billion CERs from 2013-2020.
Kelsey Perlman, Transport Policy Officer
+32 487 13 02 80
2 https://www.icao.int/Meetings/a39/Documents/10080_en.pdf, Brazil position on p. 52, China p. 53
5 Own calculations from https://pub.iges.or.jp/pub/iges-cdm-project-database
17 Jan 2020