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Major aviation companies call for carbon offsetting scheme to be cleared for implementation

Some of the largest aviation companies have made the call for governments to hasten their efforts to deliver a new international carbon offsetting scheme.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recently drew the curtain on its Carbon Markets Seminar. Staged in Montreal, Canada, ICAO remains hard at work as it strives to deliver the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) scheme, which was finalized in 2016 after numerous years of back-and-forth talks.

The scheme is actually scheduled to be implemented beginning with a pilot phase in 2021 until 2023. This would then be followed by a voluntary phase that will run function until 2027.

From 2027 all nations, with the exception of some emerging countries that would be exempted from the scheme, will be compelled to participate in the carbon-pricing initiative.

The existing current plan stipulate that all international passenger and cargo flights, along with business jets that produce over 10,000 tons of emissions each year, would be asked to purchase internationally approved carbon credits in an effort to guarantee aviation emissions are effectively capped at 2020 levels.

The hope is the scheme would offer a financial incentive for airline operators to make the switch to using cleaner technologies, as well as a new multi-billion dollar resource of finance for climate-related endeavors.

However, environmental organizations are up in arms over the recommended scheme, saying that it is not thinking on a much larger scale, does not come into effect quickly enough, and would not encourage adequate reductions in aviation emissions.

ICAO has developed a comprehensive set of ‘standards and recommended practices’, known as SARPs which set out the technical rules for the implementation of the scheme. Under these rules, all eligible airlines and other aircraft operators are required to start monitoring emissions from international flights from 1 January next year.

However, the SARPs have yet to be officially approved by member states of the ICAO. Concerns have also been raised that some countries would not participate in the CORSIA scheme until they are instructed to do so, leading to a convoluted patchwork of carbon pricing regimes for foreign operators.

Michael Gill, the Executive Director of the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), an organization that represents the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers, appealed to governments to properly embrace the new regulations in the months to come.

“The aviation sector is hard at work to ensure that aircraft operators are ready to implement the emissions monitoring provisions of CORSIA in 2019. We are currently undertaking a significant education and outreach process for airlines and business aviation operators through detailed workshops taking place all over the world.

“However, we also need the technical rules of the scheme – particularly the standards and recommended practices for the monitoring and reporting of emissions – to be formally approved by ICAO.

“The current CORSIA Package provides all the necessary actions to achieve this before January 2019, but adoption of the package in the middle of this year is vital.

“Aircraft operators need time to put in place the systems required to monitor their emissions, and because governments need time to prepare for their role as well, we strongly urge all States to support the SARPs in full and without amendments during the current consultation.”

ATAG also called on more governments to participate in the voluntary phase of CORSIA, stressing that the scheme has a solid business backing.

“Governments meeting at ICAO took the bold step to agree to CORSIA to complement technology, sustainable alternative aviation fuels, infrastructure and operational measures that form the core of climate action across the international aviation sector,” the ATAG boss remarked.

“We support CORSIA within the climate action package as the right way forward for our global industry. We are encouraged that 73 States have now shown climate leadership and signed up for the voluntary phases of the scheme – we urge more to join as well.”

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