Aviation industry welcomes progress on CORSIA, despite global emergency

GENEVA, 16 March 2020 – The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal has agreed the types of carbon offset units which are eligible for compliance with the world’s first global sector climate mechanism, the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). There are now 82 countries which will take part in the first, voluntary, phase of CORSIA and it is anticipated that about 80% of the growth in international aviation CO2 will be covered by the scheme from the end of this year.

Executive Director of the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group, Michael Gill said: “We welcome the ICAO Council decision which allows airlines to start financing climate action projects through six high-quality programmes when offsetting requirements come into effect at the end of this year. Importantly, the Council has reached its decision on the basis of recommendations from government experts to ensure CORSIA utilises credits that bring about sustainable, additional and verifiable emissions reductions. Assessment criteria were developed by governments, environmental groups and aviation industry partners. This important Council decision will prompt eligible programmes to start generating new projects, multiplying climate action around the world.

“CORSIA is, of course, not the only solution to aviation’s climate change challenge, but it is an important mid-term step whilst we increase efforts towards long-term solutions such as sustainable aviation fuels and radical advances in technology to start reducing overall industry emissions.”

The decision comes amid a time of acute crisis for the global air transport sector as it responds to government travel restrictions in place all over the world.

“The impact of Covid-19 on the world’s aviation sector is unprecedented in its severity. This has already resulted in a significant drop in traffic which will continue over the coming months. This will not only affect the aviation sector itself, or indeed travel and tourism more broadly. It will also impact those that rely on rapid air transport to do business, support trade and tourism and maintain social and family relationships. Vital vaccine shipments and medical transfers are often facilitated by air transport. This is a situation the aviation industry has never before faced on this scale.

“At the same time, 2020 is supposed to be, alongside 2019, the baseline for the CORSIA programme. An average of the two years was agreed in order to smooth any potential downturn in traffic in either year, but a situation as grave as the one we are currently facing was never contemplated. It is much too early to say what the impact of Covid-19 will be on the CORSIA baseline and we will continue to look at how the situation evolves over time. However, any modelling done today will be out of date in a week. It is very clear that 2020 is a completely abnormal situation but, in the meantime, we have an industry to rebuild and a world to reconnect.”


  • The emissions unit programmes which have been accepted by the ICAO Technical Advisory Body for CORSIA include: American Carbon Registry; China GHG Voluntary Emission Reduction Program; Clean Development Mechanism; Climate Action Reserve; The Gold Standard; and Verified Carbon Standard
  • Restrictions were placed on units from these programmes to ensure that: only emissions units that are issued from activities which started their first crediting period from 1 January 2016 and in respect of emissions reductions that occur through 31 December 2020 are eligible; emissions units which are eligible in accordance with this decision are only eligible for use toward offsetting requirements in the pilot phase. No decision has been made on eligibility for other compliance periods; the ICAO CORSIA TAB will initiate a second assessment in 2020, and additional programmes could become eligible in the future.