DOSSIER: CORSIA, aviation’s global offset mechanism

Published 21:30 on June 1, 2016  /  Last updated at 22:59 on December 4, 2020  /  Dossiers  /  No Comments

This dossier provides an overview of the upcoming market to offset international aviation emissions, with details of the key elements already agreed by governments at the UN’s ICAO, as well as details on participation and scope, offset eligibility and implications for airlines’ voluntary offsetting programmes.


After six years of negotiations, 191 governments in Oct. 2016 agreed at the UN aviation body ICAO on the design elements of a global market-based measure for international aviation.

CORSIA – the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation – is the world’s first market mechanism for dealing with climate change from an industrial sector. It aims to help meet ICAO’s previously-enshrined goal to achieve carbon neutral growth after 2020 and it is due to apply in several phases:

  • 2021 to 2023 – a ‘pilot’ voluntary phase of countries that choose to be part of the scheme. As of June 30, 2020 some 88 states representing nearly 77% of global civil air traffic will participate in the pilot phase.
  • 2024 to 2026 – the first implementation phase, also on a voluntary basis.
  • 2027 to 2035 – the second phase, which will include most states except the least developed, small island states and countries with a small amount of international air traffic (equivalent to less than 0.5% of global traffic).

CORSIA will compensate for the CO2 emissions generated by international aviation activities above 2019 levels in the pilot phase and above the average of 2019-20 levels in the first and second phases (subject to change due to COVID-19) by obligating airlines to buy and surrender emission units generated by carbon-cutting projects in other unrelated sectors, as well as a few initiatives in the aviation sector, for example cutting GHGs at airports or from taxiing planes.


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