UPDATE: ICAO eases CORISA pollution baseline

UN agency throws airlines a lifeline by making 2019 emissions levels the standard.

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(Adds comments from IATA director general)

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on Tuesday (30 June) decided to make the CORSIA aviation emissions standards a bit easier for global airlines by using 2019 as the base year for measuring CO2. Under the earlier standards, airlines would have had to use a combination of emissions output from 2019 and 2020 but since COVID-19 has basically shut down international flights, the much lower level would have cost carriers billions of dollars if they had to include 2020.

“The impact of COVID-19, significantly lowering international aviation operations, traffic and emissions in 2020, would lead to a consequential reduction in the CORSIA baseline, calculated as the average of 2019 and

Salvatore Sciacchitano, president of the ICAO Council. (PHOTO: File)

2020 emissions from the sector. This, in turn, would create an inappropriate economic burden to aeroplane operators, due to the need to offset more emissions although they are flying less and generating less emissions,” ICAO said when it announced the change. ICAO said it recognised that the move would “disrespect the originally-agreed intention and objectives of ICAO’s 193 member states when they adopted CORSIA in October 2016”.  “Council states today have made a measured assessment and have come to the most reasonable solution available given our current and very extraordinary circumstances,” remarked ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a statement on 1 July that it welcomed the decision by ICAO Council to use 2019 as a baseline CORSIA.

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general. (PHOTO: IATA file)

“Airlines are committed to carbon neutral growth through CORSIA. Today’s decision to remove 2020 from the baseline calculation marks a pragmatic way forward that maintains the intent, spirit and impact of the CORSIA agreement. And it gives all stakeholders the confidence to focus on successfully delivering CORSIA and achieving our long-term emissions reduction goals, even in this time of crisis,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO. “Aviation was the first industry sector in the world for which governments agreed a global carbon offsetting measure. Airlines know that sustainability is their license to grow. They fully support CORSIA as the single global mechanism for offsetting aviation’s international emissions. Even with the financial hardship facing the industry as a result of COVID-19, the world’s airlines have not lost sight of their emission reduction goals,” said de Juniac.


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