Historic aviation climate agreement reached at ICAO

Montreal, 06 October 2016 – The worldwide aviation industry has applauded a crucial climate agreement reached by governments meeting at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) today. The negotiations, to put in place the world’s first carbon offsetting scheme for any global sector, have had the backing of the aviation industry, which first proposed the measure in 2009.

The Executive Director of the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), Michael Gill, said that the ICAO agreement was an historic moment for aviation and for climate negotiations in general: “The industry took an unprecedented step to ask for a global measure to deal with the growth in aviation carbon dioxide emissions from 2020 onwards. What was a visionary approach seven years ago has today become a reality. We thank the government negotiators who have worked so hard to deliver a scheme which will successfully balance the growth in air transport and all of the economic and social connectivity benefits that it brings, with the need to address CO2 emissions from the sector.”

“In addition, 65 States have already volunteered to join the carbon offsetting and reduction scheme for international aviation (CORSIA) from its outset in 2021. This means that over 80% of the total growth in aviation CO2 after 2020 will now be covered and, indeed, this may increase as more States choose to join the scheme. Despite some reservations over the scheme being voluntary in its initial years, the support of all these States – large, small, developed and developing – shows the commitment of the international community working through ICAO to deliver a robust measure. We shall continue to encourage even more States to declare their voluntary participation in the CORSIA.”

International aviation was one of two sectors not dealt with in last year’s Paris Agreement. Gill commented: “Negotiators in Paris had faith in ICAO to deliver an agreement for international air transport emissions tailored to the unique circumstances of our sector. That faith has truly paid off and, today, governments have approved a scheme that will fill one of the remaining pieces of the climate change challenge.”

The industry, however, insists that this agreement is just one element of the sector’s climate change commitment. Michael Gill said: “Aviation has been making progress on improving efficiency for many years. The agreement at ICAO is today’s momentous news, but more work remains. Focus now turns to capacity building and industry will support ICAO’s efforts to ensure the successful implementation of the CORSIA. On top of that, we remain committed to deploying new technology, ramping up investment in sustainable alternative fuels, improving operational performance and working with States on infrastructure efficiencies. Our commitment to reduce aviation’s climate change contribution continues undiminished.” 

The industry agreement to pursue, support and promote the climate framework was made possible by a united industry approach, with the Air Transport Action Group bringing together airlines and operators, airports, air traffic management and the manufacturers of aircraft and engines.

Angela Gittens, Director General of Airports Council International (ACI) World, said: “The aviation industry is making great strides where environment is concerned. This historic climate agreement follows last week’s ACI Resolution supporting CORSIA as the global market-based measure for international aviation; and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between ACI and ICAO for enhanced cooperation on environmental related initiatives. With these commitments, the priority now is collaboration to provide capacity building, and coordination, so that we can work together to deliver the right assistance in the right place and at the right time.”

Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) Director General, Jeff Poole, said, “CANSO and its members across the air traffic management industry welcome the decision by States to put in place a carbon offsetting scheme for global aviation. This marks a major milestone towards the fulfilment of the fourth pillar of aviation’s four-pillar strategy to reduce its emissions. CANSO and its members will continue to focus on pillar two – improving the efficiency of aircraft operations – and pillar three – improving aviation infrastructure.  The air traffic management industry is helping to implement pillar two through procedures that enable aircraft to fly shorter, optimum routes and take-off and land with smoother trajectories, thus reducing emissions. For pillar three, we are working with States to modernise and upgrade the air traffic management system to increase capacity and reduce delays, thus ensuring a smoother experience for passengers, increasing efficiency and enabling greater connectivity and access to markets to boost GDP growth for States.’’

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac said, “The historic significance of this agreement cannot be overestimated. CORSIA is the first global scheme covering an entire industrial sector. The CORSIA agreement has turned years of preparation into an effective solution for airlines to manage their carbon footprint. Aviation is a catalytic driver of social development and economic prosperity – it is the business of freedom making our world a better place. This agreement ensures that the aviation industry’s economic and social contributions are matched with cutting-edge efforts on sustainability. With CORSIA, aviation remains at the forefront of industries in combatting climate change.”

International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) Director General, Kurt Edwards, said, "The worldwide business aviation community welcomes the decision by governments at ICAO to establish a single, global carbon-offsetting scheme for international aviation. The framework agreed at ICAO will help us meet our collective industry commitments while also taking into account the needs of small operators. Importantly, the global framework means we will avoid a patchwork of multiple measures around the world."

Chair of ICCAIA, David Melcher, the President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, said, “This is a significant year for global aviation. The agreement on CO2 standards for aircraft in February, along with the international carbon offset plan confirms our strong environmental commitment. Aircraft and engine manufacturers across the globe have displayed leadership, investing heavily to bring more fuel-efficient aircraft into the fleet, facilitating the adoption of sustainable fuels, and supporting more efficient operations. Continuing this progress will require further partnerships with governments and other industry."




Following six years of negotiations, governments meeting at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have reached agreement on the design elements of a global market-based measure for international aviation. It is part of a series of actions the aviation industry is taking to reduce its carbon emissions which includes investing in new technology, scaling up the use of sustainable alternative fuels, improving operational performance of aircraft in the fleet already and using more efficient infrastructure. 

The carbon offsetting and reduction scheme for international aviation (CORSIA) will be the world’s first market mechanism for dealing with climate change from any industrial sector. The global aviation industry has been instrumental in proposing the plan and has been encouraging States to support it.

The CORSIA will 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. So far, 65 States (which together represent over 85% of air traffic) have volunteered to be included in the scheme from the beginning.
  • 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 (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 is encouraging as many States as possible to volunteer for the scheme. So far, 65 States have done so, including: Mexico, Canada, United States, Indonesia, China, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Iceland, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Kenya, the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, Guatemala, Republic of Korea, Australia, Thailand, Costa Rica, Papua New Guinea, Qatar and Burkina Faso. These States, when combined with all States taking part in the second, mandatory, phase mean that over 80% of the growth in aviation emissions past 2020 will be offset.

An up-to-date list of States volunteering to support the CORSIA can be found at: