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Briefing for the European Parliament environment committee on draft rules for global aviation offsetting mechanism

Joint briefing by Carbon Market Watch and Transport and Environment

The ICAO General Assembly, in October 2016, adopted an assembly resolution to establish a global offsetting mechanism for international aviation for emissions above 2020 levels (CORSIA). We have a number of concerns about this overall agreement: in particular the weak target and the exclusive reliance on offsetting, both of which contradict EU climate policies.

Nonetheless as NGO observers to ICAO, we have worked to ensure the implementing rules for this agreement have the highest possible level of environmental integrity. The implementing rules will be introduced through a Standard and Recommended Practice (SARP). SARPs are the standard means by which ICAO introduces its rules – from aircraft safety to noise certification. They are discussed in more detail below under the ‘enforcement and transparency’ section.

CORSIA alone, even with the highest possible levels of environmental integrity, will do little to mitigate international aviation’s climate impact. Research by the International Council for Clean Transport has found that its cost will equal perhaps 0.4% of fuel costs in the 2020s, rising to
1.1% of fuel costs in the 2030s. These costs are significantly less than the underlying price volatility of jet fuel, meaning CORSIA will do nothing to incentivise greater efficiency by airlines and aircraft manufacturers.

CORSIA’s only hope for a positive climate impact is in the purchase of credible offsets and the avoidance of crediting bad alternative fuels. However, as detailed below there are serious concerns if the rules as currently drafted, coupled with how ICAO decision-making operates, will ensure even that.

MEPs therefore must ensure full scrutiny of any implementation of CORSIA into EU law, starting with a planned delegated act later this year dealing with monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) requirements which come into force at the start of 2019 in order to establish a two year average baseline for offsetting emissions above 2020 levels. Further implementation of CORSIA’s offsetting requirement, intended to take place through Europe’s emissions trading system, must not undermine important EU climate and legal principles such as environmental integrity, transparency and fair competition.

More generally, as CORSIA wont mitigate international aviation’s climate impact, and ICAO has not shown an ability to establish a long-term goal for the sector, MEPs should press the Commission to consider what additional measures will be pursued at European-level to ensure aviation makes a fair contribution to Europe’s climate goals.

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