Wed 20 June 2018 – Aviation industry representatives have urged members of the governing ICAO Council to adopt the rules necessary for the implementation of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). The 214th Session of the 36-State Council is currently taking place in Montreal and is due to consider the Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) before the meeting finishes next week. Since the agreement to implement the scheme was reached by all ICAO Member States at their Assembly in late 2016 (A39-3), this June session has been identified as crucial for the adoption of monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) rules that affect every airline in the world with annual CO2 emissions from international flights above 10,000 tonnes. These operators are expected to submit emissions monitoring plans before the end of this September and then start monitoring their CO2 emissions from 1 January 2019.
“It is imperative that governments agree to these standards now, to give us in industry enough time to prepare for the 1 January start date for CORSIA compliance,” said Michael Gill, Executive Director of the cross-sector Air Transport Action Group (ATAG). “We have been hard at work for the past 18 months educating airlines and business aircraft operators about their obligations. We now need the standards to be adopted to provide certainty for operators as they prepare for implementation.”
The SARPs are part of a package of the scheme’s elements on which all States were asked for their comments. Since the consultation closed in March, the responses have been analysed by the ICAO Secretariat and the package reviewed by ICAO’s Air Navigation Commission (ANC), which provides support and advice to the Council on SARPs.
Although the SARPs are expected to be adopted by the Council this session as a new volume (IV) to Annex 16 (Environmental Protection) of the Chicago Convention, it is believed that other important elements of the package may not be decided. These include the eligibility criteria for emissions units to be permitted for use by the industry when offsetting its emissions growth and the sustainability criteria for sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). Some States are unhappy with the criteria that have been proposed and may seek changes. Other States want the package unchanged and adopted in its entirety but if the Council decides to reopen discussions then they have informed ICAO they will ask for changes of their own.
“These two remaining elements are just as important to the success of the scheme and operators need certainty on them as soon as possible,” said Gill. “We need to see further progress made this year on the offset units that can be eligible for use under CORSIA – this is to ensure that offset providers have enough time to develop suitable projects and to guarantee there is a sufficient volume of eligible units available for airlines to purchase. The rapid establishment of the technical advisory body to recommend eligible units is necessary.”
An alternative fuels technical group of experts under ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environment Protection (CAEP) had recommended to the Council 12 sustainability principles that should be enforced when defining the criteria for the use of sustainable aviation fuels that can be set against an airline’s offsetting requirements under CORSIA. However, as a result of interventions by some States, 10 of the principles have been sent back to CAEP by the Council for further analysis and evaluation. These States argue that the principles set the bar too high for large-scale SAF production, whereas others – including industry – see a need for further work on developing additional sustainability requirements.
“Sustainable aviation fuels are a core component of our industry’s future. The aviation industry feels it is imperative for any use of new energy sources to adhere to a strong set of sustainability criteria. Industry was part of the process to develop the draft criteria as part of ICAO technical discussions and urge the Council to complement the criteria already agreed with the remaining broader set of sustainability principles,” said Gill.
If adopted, the SARPs would become effective from October 2018 – the date by when a majority of States have to register their disagreement for the SARPs not to be implemented, although no difficulties are expected – and applicable from 1 January 2019.
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