European Commission will keep intra-European aviation within the ETS, as well as being in the ICAO’s CORSIA scheme
ICAO’s planned global scheme for offsetting emissions from international flights will supplement, not replace, the European Union carbon market, the EU’s transport commissioner has now said. With the United Nations (ICAO) planning a 2021 launch of CORSIA, clarity is needed that the European Commission will not remove aviation from the EU emissions trading system (ETS). Transport Commissioner, Adian Valean said: “CORSIA will not put the ETS at stake. It will not replace the ETS. It will complement the ETS.” The ETS only covers flights between European countries, not outside Europe. It is a more effective scheme, in incentivising lower carbon emissions, than CORSIA – which is very weak. But ICAO wants the EU to remove these flights from its carbon market so that CORSIA can be the only market-based measure tackling international aviation emissions. The Commission, the 27-nation EU’s executive is assessing how the two systems will co-exist. It is important that EU flights outside Europe are in the CORSIA scheme, and Europe participates – otherwise other countries may also decide not to take part.
Global airline CO2 scheme will supplement, not replace EU carbon market: Commission
By Marine Strauss, Kate Abnett (Reuters)
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The U.N. aviation agency’s planned scheme for offsetting emissions from international flights will supplement, not replace, the European Union carbon market, the EU’s transport commissioner said on Monday.
With the United Nations planning a 2021 launch of CORSIA, its global scheme to help airlines offset their carbon emissions, some EU lawmakers and environmental groups want assurances that the European Commission will not remove aviation from the EU emissions trading system (ETS).
“CORSIA will not put the ETS at stake. It will not replace the ETS. It will complement the ETS,” Transport Commissioner Adina Valean told lawmakers on Monday.
Flights between European countries are currently covered by the EU carbon market, which requires airlines to buy permits to cover some emissions from these trips.
The U.N. aviation agency ICAO wants the EU to remove these flights from its carbon market so that CORSIA can be the only market-based measure tackling international aviation emissions.
The Commission, the 27-nation EU’s executive, has yet to lay out how the two systems will co-exist. Valean said the Commission would assess the best way for countries to comply with both “EU and international obligations”.
CORSIA plans to use a system of “offsetting” to cap emissions from international flights at 2020 levels. From 2021, airlines would have to buy carbon offset credits to cover any emissions above the 2020 baseline.
Critics say this would allow aviation emissions to keep rising, if airlines bought enough offset credits to cover the increase.
“As an offsetting scheme with a very weak target, the global aviation carbon market will not provide the price signal needed for airlines to clean up their act,” said Gilles Dufrasne, policy officer at Carbon Market Watch.
But Valean said the U.N. scheme is “the only realistic option” to tackle emissions from international aviation – including from flights between EU and non-EU countries, that are not covered by the bloc’s carbon market. Without EU support, CORSIA could “fall to pieces,” she added.
“If the EU were to walk away from CORSIA, this would provide a pretext for some major global players to bury CORSIA, do nothing to reduce international emissions and set back international negotiations within ICAO by many years.”
Countries’ participation in CORSIA is voluntary until 2027, when it becomes mandatory. Countries including China and Russia have not yet confirmed they will take part in the optional phase.
Valean also said that implementing the Corsia scheme will not stop the EU from pressing ahead with plans to review its carbon market in 2021.
Reporting by Marine Strauss and Kate Abnett; Editing by Mark Heinrich
Airline offsetting is a distraction from policies that can actually reduce aviation CO2 emissions
Andrew Murphy, aviation expert at T&E, explains why offsetting does not work to remove the carbon flights emit. He gets asked about this a lot. He says: “It’s a reality that people fly more and more regularly …for some it is unavoidable …What’s equally unavoidable is the climate impact of those flights … There is no “green option” for flying … Offsetting is just paying someone else to reduce your emissions, rather than reduce your own. For example, investing in renewable energy or tree-planting in some other part of the globe. … Do carbon offsets work? … Many have called them modern day papal indulgences … offsetting most certainly will not wipe your carbon slate clean … they won’t work in practice, and they won’t work in theory … [trees planted may not survive, a solar farm might have been built anyway] … there is the problem of “additionality” … some offsets are when parties set weak targets for themselves, and sell you any overachievement as an offset. No extra emissions are reduced … While offsetting by individuals is, at worst, ineffective, Governments implementing offsetting schemes worse (eg. Corsia) – a distraction from effective policies that can actually reduce aviation emissions.” Read the whole blog.
Failure of Madrid climate talks to decide on carbon credits bad news for getting ICAO to use more ambitious ones
The failure of global climate talks in Madrid last week to decide the fate of billions of old carbon credits raises the stakes for ICAO which must choose in March which offsets can be used for its carbon market for aviation carbon emissions. ICAO plans to launch a scheme to offset its net growth in emissions, called CORSIA, from 2021 and will decide in March which offsets to use. This would have been easier if the Madrid talks had agreed what carbon markets should be accepted under the Paris climate agreement. Probably in January ICAO’s Technical Advisory Board will make final recommendations to its governing Council on which offset programs to use. An option is the UN’s CDM, set up under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which has issued more than 2 billion credits. These are very cheap – as little as €0.22. But the EU and smaller economies like Costa Rica are expected to push for limits on credits from those projects, which would undermine the integrity of CORSIA. They would not work to curb CO2 emissions. The EU says there has to be a higher level of ambition. There is concern that ICAO will give in to the countries with the cheap credits, like Brazil, in order to keep them involved.
United Nations realising that carbon offsets do not work to genuinely reduce atmospheric CO2
The United Nations is aware that parts of the organisation are not convinced about carbon offsets, a strategy the UN and its ICAO has supported for two decades. The UN has publicly struggled to reconcile its support for offsets with evidence that they are often ineffective. They encourage the misapprehension that people can continue to lead high carbon lifestyles, and get away with a clear conscience, as long as some effort is made to “offset” the carbon. Rules on global carbon offsets remain contentious and often debated at UN climate talks. The organisation ProPublica published a study into how offsets related to forest preservation have not provided the promised carbon savings. They just permit “business as usual” and postpone the date when any real action might be taken. If trees are planted in poor, hot countries which are suffering unpredictable impacts of climate breakdown, they are likely not to survive. How can the intact forest provide income and livelihoods for local people, if trees are not cut down? Even if the trees do survive for decades, the carbon they have stored is later released back to the atmosphere. Perhaps in time of our grandchildren. Forests are not permanent removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.