Ensuring quality of offsets


There are many ways to achieve CO2 reductions that can be used as offsets, many of which bring other social, environmental or economic benefits. Such offsets can be sourced from a range of activities including wind energy, energy-efficient cooking stoves, methane capture, forestry and other emissions reduction or avoidance projects.

The type of offsets that will be eligible under CORSIA is important in determining the effectiveness of the scheme. All stakeholders of CORSIA – governments, the aviation industry and environmental groups – want to ensure that offsets purchased under CORSIA deliver real environmental benefits.

To ensure the environmental integrity of CORSIA, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) technical groups are working on a list of emissions units that can be used for compliance.

The main principles are already in place as follows:

  • Greenhouse gas reduction or offsets provide additional environment gains
  • Offsets must represent a permanent reduction of emissions
  • Offsets should not result in unintended increases in emissions elsewhere
  • Standards will be put in place to ensure that any CO2 reduction created by the offset unit can be fully attributed to the purchaser, is not counted towards any other climate goal, and is not something that would have occurred anyway
  • To guarantee this level of environmental integrity, operators will likely be required to purchase offsets that have been verified by agencies such as the Gold Standard or Verified Carbon Standard

To ensure sufficient supply of eligible emissions units, it is important that carbon markets are informed about ICAO’s eligibility criteria in sufficient time to adapt their market behaviours to accommodate the eligibility criteria.

It is estimated that aviation needs to offset about 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 under CORSIA between 2021 and 2035. This is more than the total volume of offsets ever issued under the Clean Development Mechanism or traded in the voluntary carbon market.

Aircraft operators will be entitled to claim emissions reductions from the use of sustainable aviation fuels, provided they deliver at least 10% in greenhouse gas savings and are not made from biomass obtained from land with high carbon stock. The industry supports the continuing work in ICAO to develop a broader set of sustainability criteria for fuels claimed under CORSIA. A globally harmonised approach will provide clarity, help to remove barriers to take up of sustainable aviation fuels and support investment in this vital area.