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Aviation emissions policy to take off?

Did you catch a flight recently? Just 3% of the global population flew in 2017, and only about 18% of a privileged set have ever done so. But things are rapidly changing.

According to estimates from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), there were over 3.7 billion global air passenger journeys in 2017 —and by 2035, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts a rise to 7.2 billion. Air travel is the world’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gases. Indeed aviation generates nearly as much CO2 annually as that from all human activities in Africa. Currently aviation contributes around 5% towards anthropogenic climate change, but this looks set to explode without rapid action.

What are the solutions? ICAO has developed CORSIA, a global market-based mechanism to keep international aviation emissions at a 2020 baseline, with any emissions above this to be neutralised through a carbon offsetting scheme. Its beauty is that, as a truly global climate policy, it avoids the usual challenges of emissions moving outside the jurisdiction affected, trade competitiveness and standards distortions – yet due to the nature of policy setting within ICAO, it is not free from political party led spates.

The coming months will be interesting, as the next sections of CORSIA policy are developed – chiefly, which emission reduction activities will be deemed eligible under the programme. It’s possible that with political wrangling among some of ICAO’s members, we could see a race to the bottom, which could result in a no-win confidence vote for the system and an ultimate climate failure, or we could do better and see the start of an exciting and emerging carbon market that will support high quality emissions reductions from projects that benefit many around the world.

IETA as a multi-sectoral, truly global business association has much to say on the next steps for CORSIA, drawing on our collective wealth of carbon market experiences to note what will work and what won’t in setting carbon standards, governance procedures, market infrastructure and influencing market supply demand dynamics.

Over the next few weeks, we are drawing together our members alongside IATA and a number of the world’s largest airline organisations to discuss the implications of CORSIA, both in the context of the Paris Agreement and on whether such policies will enable a truly sustainable carbon market that will meet its environmental objectives. This will be the start to an aviation carbon markets initiative to ensure strong carbon market voices are represented in CORSIA developments. Beyond this, we will continue to work hard on enhancing capacity of carbon markets to the aviation world and inputting carbon market viewpoints within ICAO and UN quarters as CORSIA and Article 6 develop. In November, IETA will be a supporting partner of Aviation Carbon where we will hold a series of dialogues and workshops specifically focussed on developing a robust carbon market to support CORSIA.

Stay tuned and ensure you offset your next flight’s carbon impacts.

Sophy Greenhalgh
Director, Aviation and REDD+


20-23 August: Meet Dirk Forrister, Katie Sullivan and Lisa Spafford at the Latin American and Caribbean Carbon Forum in Montevideo, Uruguay

27-29 August: Katie Sullivan and Dirk Forrister will be in Santiago, Chile for a mini B-PMR mission

2-9 September: Dirk Forrister and Stefano De Clara will be attending the Bangkok Climate Change Conference

11 September: IETA, in partnership with the EU, Canada and the State of California, will be hosting a carbon pricing and markets event in San Francisco

12-14 September: Catch several members of the IETA team at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco

12 September: Kordula Mayr will be attending EU ETS: Implementation of the funding mechanisms in Brussels

21-22 September: Meet Dirk Forrister and Katie Sullivan at the G7 Carbon Market Platform dialogue in Halifax, Canada

25 September: IETA will be hosting a climate week roundtable in New York City, focusing on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement and RGGI

26 September: Katie Sullivan will be in Calgary for the Alberta Climate Summit 2018

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IETA's International Policy Director Stefano De Clara contributed a chapter to a new report by the Asia Society Policy Institute on carbon market cooperation in Northeast Asia - download the full report today!

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IETA Insights 2018, edition 2 

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