An assessment by Carbon Market Watch of credit providers for the aviation offsetting scheme

Carbon Market Watch has produced a report that assesses credit providers for the ICAO CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme – which aims to compensate the growth in CO2 emissions from international aviation above 2020 levels, starting in 2021. Offsets should ” offset programs will be screened against the eleven new Program Design Elements,” (one of which, for example, is: “Program Governance: Programs should publicly disclose who is responsible for administration of the program and how decisions are made.”  Carbon Market Watch conclude that “no program can yet operate in a manner which complies with all the eligibility criteria. Some will need to update and improve certain parts of their protocols or methodologies, but all are hampered by the lack of clarity on international accounting rules to avoid double counting of emission reductions. The present assessment also highlights that the Program Design Elements are not sufficient to exclude credits with no environmental value, and that a rigorous application of the second set of criteria, the Carbon Offset Credit Integrity Assessment Criteria, is necessary and will require analysis of specific methodologies and projects.” 
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First class or economy? – An assessment of credit providers for the aviation offsetting scheme

15th March 2019

By Carbon Market Watch

Executive summary

The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), a new carbon market established under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), aims to compensate the growth in CO2 emissions from international aviation above 2020 levels, starting in 2021.

ICAO must, therefore, identify which carbon offsets airlines can use to meet their obligations. This will be carried out by the Technical Advisory Body (TAB), which will assess existing GHG programs (i.e. offset providers) based on criteria which were formally adopted by the ICAO Council in March 2019.

This briefing analyzes eight offset programs against one of the two sets of criteria adopted by the ICAO Council: the Program Design Elements.

The programs analysed are

  • the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM),
  • Verra,
  • Gold Standard (GS),
  • Japan’s Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM),
  • Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF),
  • Climate Action Reserve (CAR), and
  • Plan Vivo.

 

Information is based on publicly available documentation and, although not exhaustive, this screening provides insight into the general adjustments needed for all offset programs to meet CORSIA requirements.

Our conclusion is that no program can yet operate in a manner which complies with all the eligibility criteria.

Some will need to update and improve certain parts of their protocols or methodologies, but all are hampered by the lack of clarity on international accounting rules to avoid double counting of emission reductions.

The present assessment  also highlights that the Program Design Elements are not sufficient to exclude credits with no environmental value, and that a rigorous application of the second set of criteria, the Carbon Offset Credit Integrity Assessment Criteria, is necessary and will require analysis of specific methodologies and projects.

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From the report

https://carbonmarketwatch.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/First-class-or-economy-an-assessment-of-credit-providers-for-the-aviation-offsetting-scheme-2.pdf

The 11 program design elements are: (See link to ICAO) 

1. Clear Methodologies and Protocols, and their Development Process: Programs should have qualification and quantification methodologies and protocols in place and available for use as well as a process for developing further methodologies and protocols. The existing methodologies and protocols as well as the process for developing further methodologies and protocols should be publicly disclosed.
2. Scope Considerations: Programs should define and publicly disclose the level at which activities are allowed under the program (e.g., project-based, program of activities, etc.) as well as the eligibility criteria for each type of offset activity (e.g., which sectors, project types, or geographic locations are covered).
3. Offset Credit Issuance and Retirement Procedures: Programs should have in place procedures for how offset credits are: (a) issued; (b) retired or cancelled; (c) subject to any discounting; and, (d) the length of the crediting period and whether that period is renewable. These procedures should be publicly disclosed.
4. Identification and Tracking: Programs should have in place procedures that ensure that: (a) units are tracked; (b) units are individually identified through serial numbers: (c) the registry is secure (i.e., robust security provisions are in place); and (d) units have clearly identified owners or holders (e.g., identification requirements of a registry). The program should also stipulate (e) to which, if any, other registries it is linked; and, (f) whether and which international data exchange standards the registry conforms with. All of the above should be publicly disclosed information.
5. Legal Nature and Transfer of Units: The program should define and ensure the underlying attributes and property aspects of a unit, and publicly disclose the process by which it does so.
6. Validation and Verification Procedures: Programs should have in place validation and verification standards and procedures, as well as requirements and procedures for the accreditation of validators and verifiers. All of the above-mentioned standards, procedures, and requirements should be publicly disclosed.
7. Program Governance: Programs should publicly disclose who is responsible for administration of the program and how decisions are made.
8. Transparency and Public Participation Provisions: Programs should publicly disclose (a) what information is captured and made available to different stakeholders; and (b) its local stakeholder consultation requirements (if applicable) and (c) its public comments provisions and requirements, and how they are considered (if applicable). Conduct public comment periods and transparently disclose all approved quantification methodologies.
9. Safeguards System: Programs should have in place safeguards to address environmental and social risks. These safeguards should be publicly disclosed.
10. Sustainable Development Criteria: Programs should publicly disclose the sustainable development criteria used, for example, how this contributes to achieving a country’s stated sustainable development priorities, and any provisions for monitoring, reporting and verification.
11. Avoidance of Double Counting, Issuance and Claiming: Programs should provide information on how they address double counting, issuance and claiming in the context of evolving national and international regimes for carbon markets and emissions trading

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Key recommendations:

● All reviewed programs will need to adapt their protocols to ensure compliance with the Program Design Elements of CORSIA.
● A more thorough qualitative review at a project or methodology level is needed to determine the effectiveness of CORSIA. Basic fulfillment of the program-level requirements should be complemented with a continuous quality assessment of transacted credits, e.g. through spot checks of randomly selected projects which issue CORSIA-eligible credits.
● In order to avoid double counting with other emissions reduction efforts, countries need to reach an agreement on international accounting rules, and programs should finalize the upgrading of their protocols to ensure that the credits they certify are not backed by double counted emission reductions.
● The Technical Advisory Body should apply the criteria fairly and consistently, be free from conflicts of interest, and require public meetings and public input during its deliberation of program and offset eligibility..
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 See full report at