Our Take-Off CORSIA
Updated: Aug 25
The UN Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) is a global offsetting system which caps increasing carbon emissions of international flights from 2020. The scheme only incorporates international flights which contributes to 65% of the aviation industry’s CO2 emissions (CarbonBrief, 2020). It is through carbon-neutral growth CORSIA aims to support other climate efficiencies in fuel, energy and operations. The scheme aims to complement other broader initiatives by other parties such as investments in efficient technology and biofuels.
Over 192 countries will participate with the exception of China and Brazil. The initial pilot of the scheme is currently underway with 75% of the participants volunteering in the trial. The first formal phase will commence in 2024.
However this UN’s carbon offsetting strategy has come under great criticism.
Criticisms of CORSIA
Notably, CORSIA only addresses the emissions of international flights and the UN has established the International Civil Aviation Organization to monitor efforts. This does not impede the Paris Agreement’s method of using Nationally Determined Contributions to reduce GHG emissions for domestic aviation. However, signatories of both the Paris Agreement and CORSIA will have the domestic and international industries will be governed by two separate bodies.
There is also significant doubt on the efficacy of buying an offset. Airlines under CORSIA are able to buy credits to nullify their emissions. Vague criteria such as “no net harm” should be caused to the people or environment has been established. This vague criteria for offsets ultimately encourages countries to establish weak targets for financial gain.
CORSIA’s efforts are estimated to have a limited effect - only addressing 6% of CO2 emissions for international flights between 2015 to 2050 (Carbon Brief, 2020). Moreover, the goal has never been identified as a scientific response to climate change.
Ultimately, the UN’s solution to reducing carbon emissions of the aviation industry through CORSIA seems ineffective. The purchasing of carbon credits facilitates and justifies pollution. However, to complement these international regulators, aviation companies should engage in internal carbon pricing methodologies through the establishment of marginal abatement cost curves and scientific scenario analysis. These processes enable companies to compare and contrast potential business strategies that allow them to achieve financial and environmental goals.
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