Momentum builds towards ICAO ofsetting scheme for international aviation

Geneva, 22 September 2016 – The aviation industry welcomed declarations by Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates in the last few days that they intend to volunteer to participate in a global carbon offsetting and reduction scheme for international aviation (CORSIA), currently being negotiated at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The CORSIA is part of a ‘basket of measures’ which will help aviation reduce its climate impact and it has the full backing of the aviation industry.

The Executive Director of the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group, Michael Gill, said: “With the addition of Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates, we now have 55 States that have indicated they would be included in the CORSIA from the beginning of the scheme. We commend those governments for showing both aviation and climate leadership. Real momentum is building for all countries to play their role in producing a robust climate agreement at ICAO. Despite industry reservations that the initial phases of the scheme would be voluntary – the result of consensus-building during the political negotiations – the more States that join, the higher the level of environmental integrity. We encourage all States to display the same leadership position and to volunteer before or during the ICAO Assembly starting next week.”

As part of a campaign to encourage governments to support the scheme, ATAG has enlisted the voices of young aviation professionals from across the world in a series of video interviews. Michael Gill says: “the next generation of aviation leaders understand the important role early environmental action will play in securing the sector’s future. They look to the ICAO Assembly for leadership on this issue and so does the industry”. The videos can be seen at

Gill says that whilst work intensifies on the global offsetting scheme at ICAO, the industry continues to deliver on climate projects in the rest of the ‘basket of measures’: “Just this week, we have seen a major sustainable alternative fuels agreement announced by JetBlue; the commitment of Airways New Zealand to invest in satellite-based surveillance network; and the first flight of Hawaiian Airlines between Honolulu and Brisbane using coordinated gate-to-gate efficiency measures that will reduce CO2 emissions on this flight by 670 tonnes over the course of a year. The trans-Pacific flight is part of the ASPIRE project, which is an excellent example of collaborative cross-industry climate action bringing together air traffic management providers, airlines and airports from Asia-Pacific to reduce CO2 emissions from air traffic.”


Following six years of negotiations, governments meeting at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) are finalising 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 existing fleet and using more efficient infrastructure.

The fundamental design elements of the carbon offsetting and reduction scheme for international aviation (CORSIA) are due to be finalised by government negotiators at the ICAO Assembly from 27 September to 7 October 2016. The CORSIA will be the world’s first market mechanism for dealing with climate change from any industrial sector. The global aviation industry, coordinated by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), has been instrumental in proposing the plan and is now encouraging States to support it.

The draft text which has emerged from the most recent informal 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 a more individual approach.

The industry is encouraging as many States as possible to volunteer for the scheme. So far, 54 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, 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 and the UAE. An up-to-date list of States volunteering can be found at: