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ICAO agrees on offset criteria for aviation carbon market

During a closed door session, the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) –the UN body responsible for global aviation– approved the eligibility criteria for what offsets can be used under the new aviation pollution scheme. While an important step, the decision leaves the door open to billions of older ‘junk’ emission units that would render the new market useless.  

In 2016, ICAO adopted the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) as a first step to compensate for a small part of the aviation sector’s climate impact. Since then, countries have been negotiating the rules of this new carbon market. Yesterday’s approval of the eligibility criteria to assess existing carbon offset providers sends a signal as to what will be acceptable for use by airlines.  

Gilles Dufrasne, policy officer at Carbon Market Watch said:

“This decision is a step forward in the CORSIA story, but without setting an ambitious restriction on the age of eligible credits for the scheme, it could mean a giant setback for climate action. The aviation industry needs to face the reality that only new carbon reductions can deliver its goal of carbon neutral growth.”

To be effective, CORSIA needs not only robust credit quality criteria, but also a vintage restriction of 2020, based on project start date, which means that only projects started after 2020 should be eligible for receiving money from airlines.

Further reading:

Existing UN carbon credits will do nothing to offset aviation industry pollution, new Nature study finds


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