Flight Redemptions

What is CORSIA in Aviation? (Carbon Offsetting And Reduction Scheme For International Aviation)

Updated: February 20, 2024

The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA)

The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) is a global initiative aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation. It was established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, and is designed to complement other measures taken by the aviation industry to mitigate its environmental impact. CORSIA is an important step towards achieving the industry's goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020 onwards.

CORSIA operates on the principle of carbon offsetting, which involves compensating for the emissions produced by aircraft by investing in projects that reduce or remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Under CORSIA, airlines are required to monitor, report, and verify their emissions on international routes. They will then be required to purchase carbon offsets equivalent to their emissions, which will be used to finance eligible emission reduction projects around the world.

How Does CORSIA Work?

Under CORSIA, the emissions from international flights will be measured in terms of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted during the entire flight. This includes emissions from the burning of aviation fuel, as well as emissions from the operation of aircraft systems and auxiliary power units. Airlines will be required to report their emissions to the relevant authorities, who will then calculate the offsetting requirements for each airline.

The offsetting requirements will be calculated based on a set of rules and procedures developed by the ICAO. These rules take into account factors such as the distance flown, the type of aircraft used, and the fuel efficiency of the aircraft. Airlines will then have to purchase eligible carbon offsets from approved offsetting programs to cover their emissions. The offset credits can be obtained from a range of projects, including renewable energy projects, reforestation initiatives, and methane capture projects.

It is important to note that CORSIA is a voluntary scheme in its initial phases, with participation by States and airlines being phased in gradually. From 2021 to 2026, only States with significant international aviation activities and airlines with annual emissions exceeding a certain threshold will be required to participate. However, from 2027 onwards, all States are expected to participate in CORSIA, unless they are exempted due to specific circumstances.

The Benefits and Challenges of CORSIA

CORSIA offers several benefits for the aviation industry and the environment. Firstly, it provides a clear framework for addressing the environmental impact of international aviation and encourages airlines to take responsibility for their emissions. By requiring airlines to purchase carbon offsets, CORSIA incentivizes investment in emission reduction projects, thereby contributing to global efforts to combat climate change.

Furthermore, CORSIA promotes transparency and accountability. By monitoring and reporting their emissions, airlines will have a better understanding of their environmental impact and can take steps to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. The scheme also provides a mechanism for tracking progress towards the industry's goal of carbon-neutral growth, allowing for adjustments and improvements as necessary.

However, there are also challenges associated with CORSIA. One of the main challenges is ensuring the integrity and credibility of the carbon offset projects used for compliance. It is crucial that the offset projects meet rigorous standards and are independently verified to ensure that the emissions reductions claimed are real and additional to business-as-usual scenarios. The ICAO has established criteria and guidelines for the eligibility of offset projects to address this challenge.

Another challenge is the potential cost implications for airlines. Purchasing carbon offsets can be a significant expense for airlines, especially for those with large emissions. The cost of offsets can vary depending on the type of projects and the market price of carbon credits. However, the ICAO has designed CORSIA to minimize the economic impact on airlines by providing flexibility in meeting their offsetting requirements, including the use of previously generated offset credits and the ability to trade offsets with other airlines.

In conclusion, the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) is a significant step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation. By requiring airlines to monitor, report, and offset their emissions, CORSIA promotes transparency, accountability, and investment in emission reduction projects. While there are challenges to overcome, CORSIA offers a framework for the aviation industry to contribute to global efforts to combat climate change and achieve carbon-neutral growth.

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