• Michael Rawlinson QC

Aviation Carbon Offsetting

Updated: Oct 26, 2020




In this piece I want to set out the basics of the regulation of aviation carbon emissions and how they are to be combatted. I do so in three stages: namely by

  • Setting out the problem and what I suggest to be a solution to that problem

  • Outlining the EU Emissions Trading System (‘EU-ETS’)

  • Setting out the new ‘Market Based Mechanism’ for carbon offset in the aviation industry, namely ICAO’s ‘CORSIA’ (or Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation)


A1. Climate change is occurring. There are only two ways of tackling this. The first is to reduce emissions over time. The second is to enhance carbon removal from the atmosphere. I write this piece principally wearing my hat as a non-executive director of Mere Plantations Ltd (“MPL”): a UK company whose business is the growing of teak trees in Ghana. It is one of the largest growers in Africa and has, at present, 5 million trees in the ground ranging in age from saplings to trees of 12+ years vintage. It does so both on its own behalf and on behalf of individuals. The principal purposes of the business are the production of teak for profit and to monetise the economic value of the carbon capture achieved. The latter arises, of course, because fundamental to the growth of any tree (and teak trees in particular) is the absorption of Carbon Dioxide (CO2). This carbon capture lasts beyond cutting since teak is a prestige, valuable but more importantly enduring wood. Thus it tends not to be burnt after cutting or to decompose in use– the usual processes by which CO2 is released after felling. The carbon capture achieved by Mere can, pursuant to the regulatory regime controlling the airlines, be adopted by those airlines (to a limited extent) to offset against past CO2 emissions but without limit in respect of ongoing and future emissions. Mere’s ability to grow trees to order, and hence to produce off-settable carbon capture is unlimited.

A2. To state the obvious, the growth in emission of greenhouse gases (“GHG”) within the atmosphere is accepted to be the predominant cause. CO2 is the dominant GHG by volume but other gases have a greater propensity to cause climate change. The aviation industry is a major contributor to the production of GHG via the burning of bunker fuel. The following facts are salutary[1]:

  • As early as 1999 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessed that civil aviation contributed 4% to the world’s total production of global human-activity related climate forcing (IPCC “Aviation and the Global Atmosphere” (1999))

  • International airlines consume in excess of five million barrels of oil per day (Grote et al “Direct Carbon Emissions from Civil Aircraft” (2014) 95 Atmospheric Environment 214)

  • In 2005 UK Aviation was responsible for 5% of the UK’s total GHG emissions, As at 2017 it was 7% and, as other sectors abate their emissions, official prediction is that by 2050 it will be responsible for 25% of the country’s GHG emissions. This is notwithstanding the success of the industry in starting to decouple increased growth from increased emissions[2]

  • They produce “gaseous pollutants such as CO2, N20,…CO, oxides of Nitrogen and non-methane volatile organic compounds…[which]…are expelled directly into the atmosphere which are extremely sensitive, resulting in a much greater impact on ozone depletion” (Petrovic et al p68)

  • In 2016[3], ICAO considered that even with other mitigation measures such as the use of alternatives to fossil fuels (probably not available widely until 2040[4]) and improving engine environmental standards, GHG emissions would rise by 3.5% per annum (ie doubling every 20 years).

As we shall see below, this is the reason for ICAO decided that additional mitigation measures are required by using market based measures (“MBM”) to permit offsetting of carbon credits earned elsewhere against an individual country’s gross CO2 emissions arising from its aviation industry, in order to achieve a reversal of this predicted rise and replace it with a future where there is no increase in carbon emissions from the aviation industry beyond the 2020 levels. Lyle in his article (see note 3 below) reproduces a graphical representation of the ICAO’s ambition contained in “ICAO: On Board: A sustainable future (2016)”. The table is here:

Beyond the ICAO's Corsia

MPL’s offer to the market sits in the green zone ie helping to supply a MBM to meet the gap between the regulatory requirement to keep 2020 levels and any assistance which the airlines may gain in that regard from operational improvements or other technologies.

A3. Further, in Aviation 2050 (see note 2 above), the Government at Annex C set out the results of research which it had commissioned regarding the lower, upper and midpoint assessments of what CO2 savings could be achieved via improvements in technology, aircraft operational movements and improvements to air traffic management. It produced the following table:

It can readily be seen that the greatest proportion of reduction can be achieved only by improvements to technology which the Government defined as changes to the airframe, engines and alternative oils. The nature of the intended relationship between MBM and the other steps is set out in IATA’s “An Airline Handbook on CORSIA” (“IATA”)

p4 “Aviation is approaching the mitigation of CO2 emissions through a four-pillar strategy: developing new technology (including sustainable aviation fuel), more efficient operations, better use of infrastructure and a global market based measure….New technology aircraft are, on average, around 15-20% more fuel-efficient than the models that they replace. Sustainable aviation fuels have the potential to cut emissions by up to 80%....However we also acknowledge that a global market-based measure is needed to fill any remaining emissions gap until those other measures have taken full effect”

A4. The details of the ICAO’s MBM are set out in Section C below, by way of introduction at this stage all that need be said is that the Government:

  • Enthusiastically supports this venture in that it has formally accepted it, signalled that it will participate in the scheme from 2021 and is minded to argue for its adoption beyond 2035 (Aviation 205) pp 71 & 192; and

  • Will negotiate with ICAO to obtain reduction in emissions which are consistent with the targets for control of temperature rise set out within the Paris Agreement (p70)

  • Like the EU, it does not wish to stymie the international nature of the ICAO system because the risk otherwise arises that ‘excessive’ control applied to the UK aviation industry alone will simply lead to carbon leakage (ie the industry basing itself elsewhere) and for that reason aviation is left out of the UK five yearly carbon budget BUT is minded notwithstanding to agree the Committee on Climate Change advice from 2009 that aviation emissions should be reduced to 2005 (not the higher 2020) levels (p71).

The industry therefore faces a tough series of measures.

A5. This is notwithstanding that not only is civil aviation a cause of the problem, it is a victim of it too. As Petrovic points out (p68), there is good evidence that climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of sudden turbulence and disruptive thunderstorms leading to a concomitant increase in disruption and both the risk of injury to crew and passengers and, owing to disruption to flight plans and increasing costs (see Williams ‘Increased Light, Moderate and Severe Clear-Air Turbulence in Response to Climate Change” (2017) 34(5) Advances in Atmospheric Sciences 576). Further disruption is caused by increasingly severe weather ‘on the ground’ whereby unusually heavy snows and fogs lead to widespread cancellations.

A6. It follows that for reasons of both altruism/corporate responsibility and enlightened self interest, the aviation industry has good reason to want to reduce its carbon footprint. However, the dominant third factor at work, namely the nature of the regulatory requirements to do so determines precisely the framework in which compliance can be achieved by resort to reliance on carbon reductions achieved by MBM generally and Mere in particular. Whilst the detail of the regulatory framework is set out in Sections B (non ICAO) and C (ICAO) respectively, it is worth setting out briefly why any regulation at all in this area is difficult because once that is understood it will quickly become clear why, under ICAO, the burdens to comply fall directly on the operator and not the Country.

A7. There are two competing arms of the United Nations each with a web of treaties but in respect of each there is a conflict. As will be seen in a moment, the basis of modern climate change policy is the Rio Summit which created the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (“UNFCCC”). At the heart of this is a distinction drawn between the developed countries (referred to as “Annex I” countries) who are required to atone for their past carbon production by agreeing not just to curb ongoing emissions but also support less developed nations and those less developed nations who were merely asked to undertake future development as cleanly as possible. However, the Chicago summit which set up the International Civil Aviation Organisation (“ICAO”) – now a specialised agency of the UN. The agreement setting up the ICAO was incorporated within a Convention “The Chicago Convention” under which no discrimination between nations was permitted. Articles 11 and 15 of the Chicago Convention provide that any laws promulgated by any one country must be applied by that country to all aviation wherever its point of departure and that any charges or condition levied on aircraft after landing must be similarly applied uniformly.

This raises questions in the sphere of GHG production. How then, was one to log and account for emissions from a flight between an Annex I and a non-Annex I country flying over international waters? In respect of whose carbon production tally was the CO2 emitted to be added? Once that was decided, which regime did it fall into – the regime of the non Annex I country who perhaps might have to do nothing about it, or the regime of an Annex I country who, in the light of that CO2 would have enter into the world market to buy a licence to offset that gas production? How these dilemmas are resolved leads to the ultimate explanation as to why/how the aviation industry has a partial (but ‘turnkey’) solution to its needs in this area in the purchasing of carbon offset arising from the growing of Teak. In order to make good that assertion it is necessary to look at the general regulatory framework and then start to focus solely on the aviation industry.


B1. Not only did the 1992 Rio Earth Summit create GHG emissions targets for Annex I nations (albeit unenforceable ones) it also created a mechanism for an ongoing process of future agreements to be signed or entered into in annual ‘Conference of the Parties’ (“COP”) referred to by their annual number or where they took place. Subsequent additional agreements were entered into (principally) at COP 3 Kyoto (1997); COP 15 Copenhagen (2009) and COP 21 Paris 2015.

B2. At this stage of the analysis, all that need be noted about the Kyoto agreement is two fold:

B2.1. First, that the developed countries (now referred to as Annex B countries), in meeting for the first time enforceable emissions limits, could meet those limits by either:

  • (on the one hand) complying with a ‘cap and trade’ arrangement arising from a fixed level of ‘permits’ to pollute (“AAU”) being available to countries which could then be traded amongst themselves; or

  • (on the other hand) netting off from their total emissions levels (ie before having deciding whether or not they needed to trade AAU in order to meet their cap) carbon capture/reduction achieved in a third country which that third country was prepared to sell to the Annex B country.

B2.2. Second, that it permitted nations to group together and combine to produce one total of emissions and in respect of which they traded permissions to pollute internal to that group. The single largest entity created thereby was the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (“EU-ETS”)

B3. Whilst setting no targets and otherwise excluding the aviation industry from its consideration for the reasons set out above (ie because Kyoto, following Rio, placed differing duties on Annex B nations to those which were not Annex B it ran counter to the ‘equality provisions’ of the Chicago Convention) Kyoto does state within Article 2(2) that Annex I (ie industrialised nations) ‘shall pursue limitation or reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol[5] from aviation….working through [ICAO]’.

B4. The EU-ETS attempted to take up the baton within the EU area in respect of aviation. It did so via the following process (Directive 2003/87/EC):

B4.1. Emitters within regulated markets over a certain size must register with the scheme and thereafter record and, as required, control their emissions. The relevant emissions markets are set out in Annex 1 to this Directive and specifically includes aviation involving planes taking off or landing within a Member States’ territory, where the aircraft exceed a take-off mass of more than 5700Kg and where the operator as a whole emits more than 10000 tons per year[6]. Initially they were given for free a certain allocation of EUA but increasingly they are only available by way of auction in order to promote scarcity as already described: the more expensive they are the more attractive that the alternative route to compliance, namely reduction in emissions, becomes. The UK has been a member of the EU-ETS hitherto and has implemented the EU-ETS domestically via the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme Regulations 2012.

B4.2. However, whilst the aviation market became one which was formally regulated, the area was both partial and, where it operated, restrictive:

(a) It was partial in that it only applied after 2012 and even then only to flights which both took off and landed at EEU airports. In 2016 the EU consulted as to whether the scheme should be expanded to include all international flights and decided to await international developments instead (see Regulation (EU) 2017/2392. This was, in my respectful view, entirely sensible since the civil aviation arm of the UN, namely ICAO, was seeking to obtain a global agreement on carbon offsetting, which was to become CORSIA.

(b) It was restrictive in that it set very tight limits on what could be used to offset against emissions. It did allow offsetting where it could be proven that the Clean Development Mechanism (“CDM”) had been complied with in respect of the activity which was being relied upon for that offsetting. However the EU set its face against offsetting based on LULUCF (that is Land Use and Land Use Change and Forestry). For example, the recitals to Directive 2004/101/EC state

  • Carbon credits gained under CDM after 2005 may be used to achieve EU emission limits up to a fixed percentage of an individual facilities’ EUA (Recital (3))

  • “The Commission should consider, in its review of Directive 2003/87/EC in 2006, technical provisions relating to the temporary nature of credits and the limit of 1% of eligibility for land use, land-use change and forestry project activities as established in Decision 17/CP.7….to allow operators to use CERs ….resulting from land use, land use change and forestry project activities in the Community scheme from 2008 in accordance with the decisions adopted pursuant to the UNFCCC or the Kyoto Protocol” (Recital (9)).

But, in reality, carbon sequestration from tropical timber growth would always have struggled to be recognised as a significant form of offset within the aviation market. There was always a perfectly respectable argument that the UK could in fact have used tropical timber grown in Ghana to a greater extent than appeared, at first blush, permissible. This argument was based on the derogation from the general LULUCF prohibition for ‘reforestation and afforestation’ which the UK, as a sponsoring nation to Ghana under the FLEGT and REDD+ schemes could prove it was engaged upon. However for the reasons set out below, this argument is not now relevant to the future, since the EU-ETS will no long apply to the UK post Brexit implementation and CORSIA does permit such offsetting.

B5. In the light of Brexit and the inception of CORSIA, the EU-ETS can effectively now be ignored as an instrument of future control of UK aviation emissions. In respect of UK domestic regulation, it will be noted that until the date of withdrawal from the EU, the UK (via the Environment Agency) acted as the administering member state in respect of UK aircraft operators pursuant to the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme Regulations 2012/3038. Under the Regulations the UK effectively administered the EU-ETS in this country. Operators were required to provide emissions plans (Regulation 32) and the Environment Agency would then allocate aviation allowances (i.e. emissions allowances) pursuant to the scheme set out in Schedules 7 and 8 to the Regulations. However consistent with both withdrawal from the EU and the fact that the EU-ETS is now not to apply to the international flights that the ICAO CORSIA scheme does apply to, Schedules 7 and 8 are revoked (and hence the ability to allocate aviation allowances by the State is removed) as at the EU withdrawal date – 31.12.20. (see Regulation 17 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019/107)


C1. The 39th Triennial Assembly of ICAO met in October 2016 and passed a number of Resolutions (two of which are referred to below – namely Resolutions A39-2 and A39-3)

C1.1. It reiterated/recognised the following:

(a) the decision of the 37th Session in 2010 to hold net emissions from at 2020 levels (NB this is net after offsetting for carbon credits) (A39-2 Preamble) and thus to provide carbon-neutral growth. (In fact in the light of COVID this has had to be amended to 2019 since the 2020 emissions will be so much the lower because of it – see https://www.icao.int/environmental-protection/CORSIA/Pages/CORSIA-and-Covid-19.aspx)

(b) that whilst Paris Agreement of the UNFCCC called upon nations to recognised that their common responsibility to prevent climate change had to be met by them in ways commensurate with and individual to their wealth and history etc, this had to be balanced by the principles of national non-discrimination enshrined within ICAO’s founding instrument, the Chicago Convention (ibid)

(c) that the UNFCCC at Kyoto had invited developed countries to pursue limitation of GHG from aviation via ICAO (ibid)

(d) that the aviation industry wished for a ‘single global carbon offsetting scheme, as opposed to a patchwork of State and regional Market Based Measures (“MBM”), as a cost effective measure to complement a broader package of measures including technology, operations and infrastructure measures” (A39-3 Preamble and recognised that without MBM technology, operations and infrastructure measures would not prove sufficient to meet global targets (A39-3 Article 3)

(e) By 2050 emissions will be half of what they were in 2005.

C1.2. It set up the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation “CORSIA” as its Global MBM “GMBM” (A39-3 Article 5) but that such a scheme had to encompass MBMs possessed of certain features (as set out in an Annex to A39-2) - the most relevant of which to this note are as follows:

(a) The MBMs should contribute towards achieving global aspirational goals;

(b) The MBMs should be transparent and administratively simple

(c) The MBMs should not be duplicative

(d) The MBMs should facilitate appropriate access to all carbon markets

(e) The MBMs should be assessed in terms performance in respect of CO2 emissions reductions or avoidance

(Of course the growing of Teak clearly meets these criteria as set out in Section D)

C1.3. With the exception of Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing Co Countries and Landlocked Developing Countries (all listed in the Appendix III to this Section C), all countries who volunteer to do so will be enrolled by the Pilot Phase covering 2021-2023. As at 03.04.20 83 states, representing 76.64% had so volunteered[7].

C1.4. Implementation is phased

(a) From 01.01.19 emissions from all international flights are to be assessed and reported on;

(b) Pilot Phase 2021-2023 & First Phase (2024-2026)

  • Flights (ie by aircraft of any nation) between any two states which have volunteered to enrol within the pilot programme will be subject to offsetting requirements;

  • Flights (ie by aircraft of any nation) to or from a non-participating nation will not be subject to offsetting but must be monitored, verified and reported upon on an annual basis

(c) Second Phase (2027 – 2035)

  • Flights between all states (excluding ones which are registered as Least Developed Country/Developing Island or Developing Landlocked State). (Resolution A39-3 Article 10) will be subject to offsetting

C1.5. The offsetting calculation is complex. In a nutshell, in the pilot and first phases, the airline is responsible upon a ‘sectoral’ basis: that is, according to the formula to be calculated in each year X for airline Y:

Total C02 produced in year X (from all eligible CORSIA flights)


Total CO2 produced in 2019-2020 (from the equivalent flights)

x Tonnes C02 produced by Y on its CORSIA routes

In the second phase, the calculation will be adjusted via an escalator which reduces the influence of the sectoral growth and increases the influence of the individual airlines own emissions in isolation. The figures are always compared on the basis of

  • ‘CORSIA’ routes only

  • By comparing the excess CO2 produced in any one year beyond the 2019-20 average

The IATA summary[8] of this is worth replicating in full

C1.5. Article 20 of the Resolution created three mechanisms in principle but which left implementation to later processes and instruments, namely:

(a) A system of monitoring, verification and reporting (“MRV”)

(b) The criteria for what was to be eligible for Emissions Unit trading (Emissions Unit Criteria “EUC”) (and which Mere’s carbon capture brings itself under) and which will be the vehicle by which offset is undertaken (see also Article 23)

(c) The establishment of a central registry under the auspices of ICAO and the Member States to develop their own registries or groups of registries for the trading of Emissions Units

The mechanism by which the details were to be worked out was via ‘Standards and Recommended Practices’ (SARPS) which are to be contained in an Annex to ICAO (Annex 16 Part IV to the Chicago Convention).

C2. There are two documents relevant to Annex 16 namely Annex 16 itself and an accompanying volume published by ICAO as “Annex 16 – Environmental Protection – Volume 4 – Procedures for demonstrating compliance with the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (Doc 9501-4)”

C2.1. Preliminaries

(a) Each ‘aeroplane operator’ (“AO”) shall identify the international flights which are attributed to it and each such operator shall identify the state to which it is, itself, attributed. The state shall only then approve its compliance in respect of offsetting if the AO complies with Annex 16 (or exceeds such compliance). The state is at liberty to put in place higher standards if it so wishes (Chapter 1 to Annex 16)

(b) MRV duties arise in respect of any AO emitting more than 10,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum after 01.01.19 from aircraft over 5700 Kg take off mass (excepting humanitarian etc. flights) (Chapter 2 to Annex 16)

(c) The MRV duty includes the duty to monitor and record fuel use. The precise process depends on the size of the AO’s emissions and the time period under consideration

§ Until 2021, emitters under 500,000 tonnes of CO2 may use an estimation tool (CO2 Estimation and Reporting Tool (CERT)[9]) rather than measuring actual fuel use. After 2021 only emitters under 50,000 tonnes may do so.

§ All other relevant AO’s must use the Fuel Use Monitoring Method set out in Appendix 2 to Annex 16.

(Chapter 2, Annex 16)

(d) The AO must then undertake an assessment of emissions based on an assessment of the fuel density (assumed to be 0.8 Kg per l but subject to detailed confirmation) and according to a specific formula (ibid)

(e) The same duty to submit and keep up to date an Emissions Monitoring Plan to the UK authority (at present contained within the EU-ETS and domestic Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme Regulation 2012 (2012/3038) is now provided for under Chapter 2 of Annex 16.

(f) The AO must then provide an Emissions Report to the State. It will be a matter for the State whether the AO does so by reference to pairing between specific aerodromes or as between pairing between specific countries. Each direction of flight as between two pairs is reported separately. The state will then aggregate those Reports and provide an average emission to each AO (Chapter 2, Section 2.3.1 & Appendix 1 and 5, Annex 16)

(g) The AO data must be subject to verification by an organisation taken from an accredited list supplied by ICAO. Such verification will comply with ISO 14064-3:2006 and Appendix 6, Section 3 of Annex 16 itself. It should be noted that verification applies at two stages: namely their level of emissions and when reporting back regarding the cancellation of emissions units needed to offset their verified emissions (as per the above calculations). Interestingly the requirements on the verifier are not limited to their possession of the ISO standard. Appendix 6.2.2. to Annex 16 Vol IV stipulates that a team which carries out 6 annual tests for one operator, must then stand down for three years in respect of that same operator.

C2.2. Carbon Offset

(a) For the period 01.01.21 – 31.12.35, Chapter 3 of Annex 16 shall control the AOs’ ability to offset carbon in respect of international flights. In the trial period this shall extend only to those Countries which have volunteered to participate (but see above for the large number which have done so). This is done by analysing via the routes between pairings of participating countries – or at a more detailed level, between aerodromes within those countries. (See Appendix II to this Section C for CORSIA’s own Diagrammatic Representation and that of IATA ) – NB: the list of pairing is not due out until the end of June 2020 (https://www.icao.int/environmental-protection/CORSIA/Pages/state-pairs.aspx)

(b) The requirement to offset is set by the State and then communicated to the AO (Chapter 3 Paragraph 3.2.1. Annex 16)

(c) A multi-stage approach is adopted

(i) First the State considers the Emissions Report from each AO. This can then be parsed into pairs (either by state or by aerodrome)

(ii) Then it checks the applicability of the AO to the scheme (ie new entrants into the market are treated differently)

(iii) The offsetting formula set out above is then applied.

(iv) An adjustment will be made if the AO uses a CORSIA eligible fuel (Chapter 3 Section 3.4.4. Annex 16)

(v) Complex examples are given in the Environmental Technical Manual – Volume 4 (DOC-09501-002-04-E-D)

(d) Once the AO has been informed of its total Offset Requirement, it then has a duty to offset according to Chapter 4. This is so significant to this paper that the relevant part is simply set out in full:

(e) The AO then has a duty to report back to the State that it has cancelled EEU in order to meet its offset and then has a duty to use a verification process to do so (Chapter 4, Sections 4.3. and 4.4.)

(f) The compliance cycle for reporting offset needs is different to that for submitting the verified emissions unit cancellation report. The former is an annual cycle and the latter a triennial one.

(A more detailed timeline is excerpted from ICAO Annex 16 Chap IV, in Appendix I to this paper)

(g) CORSIA will, via its Central Registry publish the following information (at accumulated and analysed at a national level in order to avoid commercially sensitive information from being made public)

  • The offsetting requirement in each compliance period balanced by the total quantity of emissions units cancelled over the cancelled period

  • Importantly for Mere, information on the cancelled emission units themselves (such as their provenance, type, methodology and program registry name)

The ICAO Secretariat have produced a document called “The CORSIA Central Registry” which sets out that state actors can access it directly but that on an annual basis, the 2020 emissions by sector will be published on it and from 2022 the growth factor.

Thus it can be seen that the only method by which the AO may meet its Offset Requirements is by the purchase of properly verified carbon offsets, surrendering them to the appropriate registry and reporting back to the Country.

C3. Eligibility of the CORSIA emissions units

C3.1. Criteria are set out in Assembly Resolution A39-3. Namely that any mechanism established under the UNFCCC/Paris Agreement will be eligible provided that they ‘align with decisions of the ICAO council’. Guidance will be taken from ICAO”s Technical Advisory Board (“TAB”) (see below)

C3.2. Additionality and guarantees against double counting are important considerations.

C3.3. Purchase of such emissions units (once proven to qualify) is on the open market and does not need to be via a central exchange/registry (as occurs in the EU-ETS)

C4. Following a TAB recommendation in January 2020, detail has now been provided regarding CORSIA Eligible Emissions Units and what compliance and verification is required before offset can become one.

C4.1. That for the 2021-2023 compliance cycle, approved ICAO EEU can only be issued in respect of activities which commenced their first crediting period from 01.01.16 and which accrued emissions reductions up to 31.12.20 (TAB para

C4.2. The body undertaking the programme must provide for and implement the CORSIA registry system (TAB para

C4.3. A number of emissions unit programmes are eligible to supply CORSIA EEU including

  • CDM

  • The Gold Standard

  • Verified Carbon Standard Program

In respect of each the TAB noted certain differences from ICAO but recommended their inclusion with some modifications and subject to the overall conditions set out in C3.1.

C5. Albeit at the moment it is in the form of a press release, it would appear that ICAO have simply adopted C4.1. and C4.3. without reservation.

C6. As it happens, Mere is seeking verification via VCS. One issue to be resolved is the degree to which ICAO will permit ALOFU projects be used as VCS units. This is going to be a collaborative three way effort, namely for individuals in respect of VCS and for VCS with the TAB of ICAO. It raises larger issues of nesting of REDD+ compliant projects within larger national compliance with Kyoto/Paris requirements upon them. Verra (who operate VCS) indicate that no decisions will be forthcoming until December 2020 owing to COVID

Michael Rawlinson QC

25 October 2020


The relevant timeline at present (itself this is taken from Appendix I to Annex 16 to ICAO)


This is CORSIA’s own representation of how pairing works for calculating what is eligible for offsetting



Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia,

Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, Kiribati, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Timor Leste, Togo, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu, Yemen & Zambia

LIST OF SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES (not otherwise appearing above)

Bahrain, Cabo Verde, Comoros, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Singapore, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Kitts, St Lucia, St Vincent, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga,

American Samoa, Anguilla, Aruba, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Commonwealth of Northern Marianas, Cook Islands, Curacao, French Polynesia, Guadeloupe, Guam, Martinique, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Niue, Puerto Rico, Saint Maarten, Turks and Caicos Islands & U.S. Virgin Islands.

LIST OF LANDLOCKED DEVELOPING COUNTRIES (not otherwise appearing above)

Afghanistan, Armenia, Bolivia, Botswana, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Paraguay, Tajikistan & Zimbabwe


[1] Cited by Petrovic & Xuan ‘Alleviating Greenhouse Gas Emissions Caused by an International Commercial Air Transport Undertaking’ [2020] J.B.L. (Issue 1) 59 [2] All statistics in this bullet point are taken from the p68 2018 HMG Consultation Paper “Aviation 2050: The future of UK aviation” “Aviation 2050” found at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/769695/aviation-2050-web.pdf [3] ICAO Environmental Report 2016: Chapter 1: Aviation & Environmental Outlook pp18-19 [4] See the sources for that statistic quoted by Lyle in “Beyond the ICAO’s CORSIA: Towards a More Climatically Effective Strategy for Mitigation of Civil-Aviation Emissions” (Climate Law 8 (2018) 104-127; 108 [5] Ie the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer of 1987 which is principally concerned with the control of gas emissions linked to ozone layer depletion arising from aviation. NB: This is not to be confused with the 39th General Assembly of ICAO held in Montreal where the decision was taken in 2016 to the Market Based Measure on reduction later to become known as CORSIA. [6] The units of measurement for aviation are Emissions = Fuel Consumption x Emission Factor (2006 IPCC Inventory Guidelines) and Tonne Kilometres = distance x payload (See Annex IV to 2003/87/EC [7] https://www.icao.int/environmental-protection/CORSIA/Pages/state-pairs.aspx [8] An Airline Handbook on CORSIA [9] https://www.icao.int/environmental-protection/CORSIA/Pages/CERT.aspx

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