April 24, 2020, ©. Leeham News: Before we wrap the series about technologies that can help us reduce the environmental footprint of air transport, we describe what the ICAO emissions scheme CORSIA is, its goals, and comment on its importance.
ICAO is the UN agency that manages the agreements around international air transport. It’s also active in rules and conventions around environmental issues for air transport. As its charter is agreements for international air transport, any ICAO emission scheme can only be for this part of our air transport system. Any domestic air transport environmental schemes must be handled by the local state.
ICAO got its 193 members to agree to an aspirational goal of a “carbon neutral growth from 2020” for international aviation at its general assembly 2013. In 2016 the measures to achieve this goal were collected under the name CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation).
Implementation of CORSIA shall start next year and it’s voluntary for states to participate until 2026. It foresees the use of the technologies described in our low hanging fruit to achieve the goals. But it realizes this will not be enough to reach “carbon neutral growth from 2020” and therefore adds a carbon trading scheme to offset any higher CO2 load from international aviation.
It couldn’t, of course, envisage a worldwide virus pandemic virtually stopping air transport during 2020, thus the 2020 CO2 emissions are not useful as targets for CORSIA. CORSIA has a further goal of reducing CO2 emissions to 2005 levels by 2050, but how to get there is not described at present.
CORSIA is criticized for not being ambitious enough by many groups, but what is the point in such criticism? It’s an agreement voluntarily adhered to by states covering 85% of international air transport. Those who haven’t joined are Russia and India, but all other key states are in.
CORSIA is a key framework for how the aviation world can attack the issue of a global CO2 problem. It’s critical to support it and get it going, with its limitations and faults. Because then we have a base. Without it, we have nothing, and the efforts to control air transport’s environmental load disintegrates into local schemes infected by political agendas. This will achieve nothing but political infighting.