Towards carbon neutral growth

Aviation has been among the fastest growing sectors globally, both in terms of economic output and emissions. A plan for carbon-neutral growth from 2020 adopted by ICAO in 2016 – known as CORSIA – is confronting the industry and governments with unprecedented challenges.

CORSIA – An ambitious plan is taking shape

Aviation currently accounts for some 2% of global CO2 emissions, with a strong increase projected for the coming decades. Domestic aviation has been subject to emissions caps in Europe for some five years now. In addition, IATA, the industry’s leading association, announced in 2009 a set of three sequential goals for air transport: (1) a 1.5 % average annual improvement of fuel efficiency from 2009 to 2020, (2) carbon neutral growth from 2020 onwards and (3) a 50% absolute reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.

To further these initiatives, the International Civil Aviation Organization adopted in October 2016 a global market based measure to help achieve carbon neutral growth, known as the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

CORSIA provides a framework for offsetting emissions from flights between participating countries above the 2020 baseline. In its first phase from 2021–2026, participation in the scheme will be voluntary, but the most important countries have already indicated their intention to engage. From 2027 onwards, participation will be mandatory for most countries.

First Climate: Working with airlines

CORSIA is confronting airlines with a series of demanding questions including:

  • Which operations will be affected?
  • What are the requirements for monitoring, reporting and verification?
  • Which carbon offsets will be eligible instruments for achieving compliance?
  • What is the best strategy for ensuring compliance efficiently?

First Climate has been working with leading airlines for the reduction of their carbon footprint for over a decade. In response to CORSIA, First Climate co-sponsored a series of workshops hosted by IATA and IETA in Geneva, Miami and Singapore in February and March 2017. First Climate also supports public sector clients such as the German Environmental Protection Agency (UBA) and the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment in the implementation of carbon trading for the aviation sector under both CORSIA and the Swiss Emissions Trading Scheme.