It’s been roughly a year since we last wrote about CORSIA (the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) and as we all know, a lot has happened in that year.
2021 also marks the beginning of the Pilot Phase for CORSIA, which means that all airlines taking part need to begin offsetting any emissions that go above CORSIA’s baseline. We therefore thought it was important to revisit this topic and bring you the latest.
In addition to CORSIA, we will briefly discuss the new UK Emissions Trading Scheme, which has come into force this year, and explain what it means for airlines flying from and within the UK.
This blog is particularly timely because ICAO has just made two important announcements in its February 2021 CORSIA newsletter:
So other than the relaxation of timescales for 2019, how has CORSIA been affected by COVID-19 so far?
The events of 2020 brought major challenges to CORSIA, particularly with regards to the sectoral baseline for CO2 emissions. This baseline is crucial for determining the starting point for carbon neutral growth — any emissions above this baseline must be offset, and this is done by airlines buying approved carbon credits.
The baseline was originally going to be calculated using the average total CO2 emissions from 2019 and 2020, for flights covered under the scheme. However because of 2020’s dramatic drop in passenger traffic, and therefore in emissions, industry groups such as IATA were concerned that the baseline would be significantly lower than planned. They foresaw that this would have a knock-on effect on offsetting obligations, forcing airlines to buy many more carbon credits than expected, which could reduce engagement levels in the voluntary phase of CORSIA and even jeopardise the aviation industry’s recovery from COVID-19 (source: IATA).
Pressure from IATA, airlines and other industry groups, led to the baseline calculation being changed by ICAO in June 2020. For now, it will only be based on 2019’s CO2 emissions. This has been welcomed by the airline industry, but not by environmental organisations, who feel that the change has just delayed the start of offsetting requirements until at least 2024 (source: Business Traveller).
However, it’s important to note that at the moment, the new 2019 baseline has only been agreed for use during CORSIA’s pilot phase (2021 to 2023). In 2022, the ICAO Assembly will review this decision and at that point, it could decide to revert back to the previously agreed 2019-20 average.
Emissions Webinar – Watch the recording
Verification bodies often conduct site visits to airlines as part of the process of verifying an airline’s annual emissions report. After concerns were raised about the ability to conduct these site visits during the pandemic, ICAO produced this guidance on the role of remote verification techniques. It stresses that site visits should only be replaced by remote verification in exceptional circumstances, and in all cases, it should be the decision of the state, based on a careful consideration of various factors, which are outlined in the guidance.
As far as we know, ICAO are still expecting airlines to meet the original deadlines for monitoring and reporting their CO2 emissions for international flights operated in 2020. These deadlines are that airlines should report to their state authority by 31st May 2021 and then the states should report to ICAO by 31st August 2021.
However, we don’t yet know whether the ICAO Council’s meeting later this month will result in any extension to these deadlines, since they are due to hear an updated analysis on COVID-19’s impact on the industry and CORSIA. The most likely scenario seems to be that ICAO won’t change any of the deadlines formally, but may be ‘flexible’ with late submissions, as they have been for 2019 reports.
According to the latest CORSIA newsletter, 88 states have signed up to participate in the Pilot Phase of CORSIA, which means they will begin offsetting emissions this year. 114 emissions reports for 2019 have been submitted, or are in the process of being submitted, to the CORSIA Central Registry.
(source: CORSIA Newsletter Feb 2021)
Here at FuelPlus, we would like to see these numbers increase, so this year, we’ve committed to making it easier for airlines to monitor, calculate and report on their CO2 emissions. We’re doing this by including our industry-leading Emissions module free of charge in all our FuelPlus Cloud packages. We believe that good emissions management should now be essential for all airlines, not an optional extra.
Following the UK’s exit from the European Union, a UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) began on 1 January 2021, which replaces the UK’s participation in the EU ETS. The aviation routes covered by the UK ETS will include:
The UK ETS will operate in a very similar way to the EU ETS; however its emissions cap will be set 5% lower than the EU scheme. The UK ETS will also allow airlines to choose from any one of the five fuel use monitoring methods approved by CORSIA, unlike the EU scheme, which only permits two out of the five.
The timescales for compliance with the new UK ETS are as follows:
‘n’ being a scheme year in which you are an aircraft operator.
(Source: UK Government guidance for aircraft operators)
Airlines will be able to apply for a UK ETS Trading Account soon — from 6 April — and auctions will begin on 19 May.
How FuelPlus Emissions can help airlines get compliant fast
FuelPlus Emissions was developed over several years with leading carriers such as Lufthansa, and is the most comprehensive emissions tracking and reporting solution out there. It’s suitable for large and small airlines, whatever their level of fuel consumption. The software significantly eases the administrative load on airlines by:
In short, FuelPlus Emissions saves airlines money because they don’t need to employ expensive consultants or internal staff to prepare the data and reports.
It’s also the first step towards a more sustainable airline and can help carriers prepare for any future requirements and legislation around greenhouse gas emissions.
Watch our latest webinar recording to find out how you can improve your emissions monitoring and reporting, while saving time and money. On this webinar we were joined by Christian Mietz, Emissions Trade and Report Manager from Lufthansa.