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U.N. EASES AVIATION EMISSIONS OFFSETTING SCHEME IN RESPONSE TO PANDEMIC

07/13/2020

On June 30, the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) agreed to shift the baseline year for CORSIA, a landmark carbon emissions offsetting scheme for airlines, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the industry. CORSIA, set to begin in 2021, requires airlines to buy credits to offset carbon emissions from international flights that exceed the baseline of average emissions in 2019-2020. The airline industry argued that using 2020 in the benchmark calculation would artificially lower the offset ceiling due to huge declines in flights this year. ICAO agreed to change the baseline year to exclusively 2019, stating that including 2020 would create an “inappropriate economic burden to airplane operators” (Reuters, EURACTIV). 

Environmental groups insist the change will render the initial three-year pilot scheme of CORSIA useless, since emissions are unlikely to surpass 2019 levels for the near future. The ICAO governing council will rule later whether or not the baseline change applies to stages of CORSIA beyond the pilot phase (EURACTIV). 

International groups as well as the European Union (EU) are increasingly considering emissions schemes to mitigate climate change in aviation and other sectors. The EU agreed on July 7 to include international carbon emissions from the shipping sector in the EU carbon market, with plans to incorporate shipping into the E.U. emissions trading scheme by 2021 (Reuters).