Encouraging consensus building at ICAO climate talks, industry urges states to show more ambition

Geneva, 5 September 2016 – The aviation industry today welcomed announcements by the United States, China and 44 European States that they would voluntarily join a global carbon offsetting and reduction scheme for international aviation (CORSIA) currently being negotiated at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The discussions centre on the major design elements of the scheme and follow three years of talks which are due to conclude at the 39th ICAO Assembly from 27 September to 7 October this year.

In reaction to the current state of the discussions, Michael Gill, Executive Director of the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) made the following statement:

“We were encouraged by the spirit of constructive engagement shown by governments at ICAO during the most recent informal discussions. Progress was made in finding areas of convergence between country positions. We are confident that spirit will continue as we head into the ICAO Assembly, where we strongly urge governments to finalise the design aspects of the carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation.

“At the same time, we are cautious about several developments. We do not feel a pilot phase is necessary, because airlines and other aircraft operators will be ready and able to commence the scheme from 2020. Offsetting is not a new concept. Indeed, a large number of airlines already offer offsetting to passengers on a voluntary basis. What the industry does need is certainty, with a clear set of metrics defined before the scheme commences and consistently applied throughout its lifetime.

“Since we first urged governments to develop a global carbon offsetting scheme as part of a basket of climate actions in 2009, we have promoted a mandatory measure covering a high proportion of international aviation emissions from day one of the scheme. The fact that the first six years of the current proposal is now voluntary in nature demonstrates the outcome of the continuing political discussions between States and their desire to reach a consensus-based agreement.

“Key to the scheme will be the proportion of international aviation emissions that are covered under the mechanism. It is significant that in the last few days China, the United States and 44 European countries have joined Mexico, Canada and Indonesia to signal that they will be part of the CORSIA from the start. We strongly encourage all States to demonstrate climate leadership by volunteering to be part of the scheme as early as possible.

“Climate change is a challenge the entire world must face with ambition, drive and purpose. The aviation sector, through hundreds of collaborative efforts around the world, has shown that carbon dioxide reductions are not only achievable, they are also beneficial to the business. We have passed that message on to regulators meeting at ICAO. It is unusual for an industry to be pushing governments to take this kind of economic action, but we believe it is time for aviation to show leadership and make an historic decision at the ICAO Assembly.”



The draft text which has emerged from the most recent talks was forwarded to the ICAO Council and is now being presented to the Assembly itself, where discussions will continue. According to the draft text, the CORSIA would now consist of a global offsetting scheme to be applied to international aviation in several phases:

  • 2021 to 2023 – a ‘pilot’ voluntary phase of countries which choose to be part of the scheme.
  • A 2022 review will be conducted on the implementation of the CORSIA, to determine if there will need to be any adjustments before the scheme continues.
  • 2024 to 2026 – the first implementation phase, also on a voluntary basis.
  • 2027 to 2035 – the second phase which will include most States except least developed, small island states and countries with a small amount of international air traffic (currently proposed at less than 0.5% of global traffic). This second phase has triennial technical adjustments to the distribution of obligations between individual airlines, moving from a collective approach towards more of an individual approach.


  • The industry’s Open Letter on climate action, signed by leading CEOs and Directors General is available at
  • The current draft CORSIA proposal is available here:
  • The United States and China statement (3 September) can be found here:
  • The 44 European Countries’ Bratislava Declaration (3 September) can be found here:
  • Aviation Climate Solutions, a compendium of 101 case studies of climate action across the aviation industry can be downloaded at
  • The Air Transport Action Group represents the entire aviation sector: airlines, airports, air traffic management organisations and the makers of aircraft and engines. It coordinates common industry positions on the sustainable future of air transport.