In their most recent meeting, the board of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) decided on important requirements for the allowance of emissions reduction of projects for the CORSIA programme. The aim of the programme is to enable climate-neutral growth within the aviation industry by offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. Adopting this catalogue of criteria is an important milestone on the way to implementing the CORSIA Programme and it enables airlines to start adjusting to the general conditions right away.

The decision of the ICAO board follows the recommendations of a pre-commissioned expert committee, the Technical Advisory Body (TAB), which had already presented eligibility requirement criteria for the CORSIA programme projects in January.

According to the board’s decision, emission reduction certificates must come from a climate protection project that has been certified by one of the following six standards:

  • American Carbon Registry
  • China GHG Voluntary Emission Reduction Program
  • Clean Development Mechanism
  • Climate Action Reserve
  • The Gold Standard
  • Verified Carbon Standard (Verra)

Defined approval requirements for emission reductions

Currently no further project standards are allowed for the CORSIA programme, but standards may be able to apply for a review in later proceedings and this may lead to a subsequent approval.

Further clarification on the eligibility of certain project types such as nested REDD+ projects, which are verified by VCS, is still needed. For these and some other project types, approval is provisional since there are still outstanding queries to be solved – such as the fulfilment of the permanence criterion, i.e. ensuring the long-term protection of forests. However, ICAO and VERRA are currently working together to clear up any remaining ambiguities and to bring about a final and lasting decision.

As a further pre-requisite, the ICAO board has specified the accepted vintages of emission reduction certificates. In the pilot phase of the CORSIA programme, which will run from the coming year until 2023. Only emissions reduction certificates that have been issued between 1st January 2016 and 31st December 2020 will be accepted.


Ground-braking decision in a difficult situation

“Today’s decision is the result of a robust assessment of emissions units programmes against a set of criteria agreed by ICAO Member States,” noted ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano. “It will ensure that CORSIA is both practical and robust, and represents an important environmental milestone.”

First Climate’s CEO, Dr. Jochen Gassner, sees the recent decision as an important step on the way to the successful implementation of the CORSIA programme:

“For the airlines it is really important that the central framework conditions are now clear with regards to which projects can be used for the compensation of greenhouse gas emissions within the CORSIA framework. This gives the planning security that is needed to efficiently implement the programme’s requirements.”

It’s remarkable, says Gassner, that the ICAO board has managed to make such an important decision despite the current difficult circumstances.

“The fact that this decision has been made in the middle of the global Corona crisis, which has affected the aviation industry more than any other, is a sign of the serious commitment from airlines and the high priority that climate protection takes within the industry.”


The international aviation industry has set itself ambitious climate protection goals in recent years. 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).

First Climate has been working with leading airlines for the reduction of their carbon footprint for over a decade and offers proficient advice on all issues related to the implementation of the CORSIA program.