Due to pressure from the covid-19 pandemic, the global airline industry is requesting changes to an international plan adopted in 2016 that was intended to lower aviation emissions.
Represented by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), airlines are asking the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to amend the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), the Guardian reported.
“Under the system, airlines have to pay to offset any growth in carbon emissions above a baseline set by the average emissions of 2019 and 2020,” according to the outlet. “The grounding of aircraft during the pandemic means the baseline will be far lower than envisaged, and the carbon targets much more challenging, if CORSIA goes ahead without changes.”
Collectively, the carbon offset program needs to raise between $4.95 billion to $22.39 billion annually from airlines, an April 2020 report from the London-based environmental group Green Alliance estimated.
IATA indicated that some of its member nations might have to pull out of the program if costs are too high, the Guardian noted. That possibility drew criticism from environmental groups.
“The existing CORSIA rules provide flexibility to governments to address suppressed activity in 2020, without any need to renegotiate the measure in a drawn out political discussion,” EDF International Counsel Annie Petsonk said in March, when the organization published a coronavirus and CORSIA analysis.
EDF found that the amount of credits that would be available for airlines to use would still be 2.5 to 3.5 times the amount the airlines need for the first three years of the program, Petsonk added. “These credits would be in addition to any reductions that may be available as airlines begin to shift to sustainable aviation fuels.”
IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac issued a statement this week requesting that governments worldwide provide the airline industry with financial relief from the covid-19 crisis including direct support, loans, and tax relief.
“We haven’t given up our environmental goals,” he told the Guardian. “After the recovery we will continue to reduce emissions and noise footprints — that hasn’t changed.”