T&E: Why Europe should focus on its…

T&E: Why Europe should focus on its own airline carbon market and forget the UN scheme
2020-08-06 09:02:00
Transport & Environment argues why Europe should not depend on the inadequate, ineffective CORSIA scheme, for its aviation CO2 emissions. CORSIA does not include an actual emissions reduction target. It is at odds with the Paris agreement’s goals. The quality of the offsets is not good enough; there are so many of them that the price is far too low to make airlines reduce emissions.  An EU system could do better.  T&E says: “The aviation geeks of this world will know the argument [that international aviation can only be controlled by ICAO] by heart now: “aviation is an international mode of transport, so it requires international solutions”. But does it, really? A majority of the aviation industry is eager to privilege international solutions when they want to escape their environmental responsibilities, but are very happy to promote national solutions when it comes to getting [Covid] bailout money. This needs to stop. Aviation can’t have it both ways: it’s unfair for the sector to get support in bad times and refuse to contribute to European and national environmental efforts in good times. Especially when the industry isn’t effectively dealing with aviation’s climate problem by itself”.  . Tweet   Why Europe should focus on its own airline carbon market and forget the UN scheme At the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, it was difficult to imagine how rapidly the virus would impact our daily lives, and the aviation sector in particular. While we grappled with Zoom calls, and while governments rushed to flatten the curve, the aviation sector was knocking on doors asking for more special treatment – on top of the tax exemptions and light-touch climate regulation that it already enjoys. By Jo Dardenne (Transport & Environment) August 3, 2020 Even after receiving over €30 billion of taxpayers’ money, it didn’t take long for airlines to ask the UN aviation agency, ICAO, to change the rules of a global offsetting scheme for aviation’s carbon emissions. The scheme, known as Corsia, obliges airlines to purchase offsets for emissions over 2020 levels, taking the average emissions released in 2019 and 2020 as a baseline. When Covid grounded flights, airlines asked for this baseline to be changed to only take into account 2019 figures because emissions would be so low in 2020 that they would have to offset more than they expected. But whatever the baseline, will this scheme really place a significant financial burden on airlines, and was it ever going to solve aviation’s climate problems? First, Corsia does not include an actual emissions reduction target. It relies on airlines buying offsets to compensate for their emissions growth, which will never be enough to offset the known damage of flying, and is also at odds with the Paris agreement’s goals. All countries and sectors are expected to reduce their emissions, including you, aviation! Second, look at the actual quality and price of the offsets that airlines are expected to buy to compensate for their emissions. At the start of 2020, ICAO’s governing body agreed that six offsetting programmes were eligible to be considered within Corsia, one of which is the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The European Commission already reported that 85% of the offset projects under the CDM failed to reduce emissions. ICAO did adopt a safeguard on the age of eligible offsets, which slightly improved the environmental integrity of the scheme, but in the end would still lead to an oversupply of offsets. So, not only are the offsets of questionable quality but the amounts available to buy will be so high that airlines can continue polluting with the assurance that there will always be enough cheap offsets to purchase. Current and potential supplies are expected to be between 2 and 4 times higher than demand estimated in the industry association IATA’s latest Covid-19 scenarios. With offsets expected to cost a few cents, the financial impact of Corsia on airlines is expected to be minimal. Even ICAO says it expects the cost of compliance to range between 0.2 to 0.6% of total revenues from international aviation in 2025. In comparison,

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