A global offsetting scheme for international aviation


The aviation sector is developing the world’s first global market mechanism – in the form of a scheme which will offset the growth in international aviation CO2 after 2020.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, bringing together governments, industry and environmental groups, is currently working to implement the system, which was agreed at the 2016 ICAO Assembly. The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, more commonly known as CORSIA, was result of this work

Read below for more information about CORSIA.



CORSIA was formally agreed by governments at the 2016 ICAO Assembly in Montreal. This agreement helps aviation towards its goal of carbon-neutral growth by offsetting growth in CO2 emissions from 2020 onwards. You can read more about how CORSIA will work here.

With the main political agreement now in place after years of negotiation on how a market-based measure would work, the sector’s attention is now shifting towards some of the more technical elements of CORSIA which have yet to be determined. Discussions are ongoing to find agreement on reporting requirements, what kinds of offsets can be used and how sustainable aviation fuels may be used in CORSIA. These crucial elements will need to be agreed by ICAO before the scheme formally begins in 2020.

However, there is a lot of work taking place already preparing both airlines and governments for the start of the CORSIA (the requirement to monitor emissions, which applies to all aircraft operators with international services, actually starts in 2019). You can find out how operators can prepare for CORSIA here.



As part of the negotiations, governments have decided to make the first part of the scheme voluntary for States. We are now encouraging all countries to volunteer to be part of the scheme, from as early as possible. A number already have, which is great to see: we will be keeping note of them here.

There are a number of reasons why states should volunteer to participate in the initial stages of CORSIA. Firstly, taking the political decision to volunteer sends a strong signal to the rest of the world that the state is willing to show climate leadership. It will also increase the effectiveness of the scheme by ensuring that more flights are covered. However, there are also other more practical benefits to volunteering. With more states participating from the beginning the demand for offsets will grow, driving investment in developing countries where many of the offset projects are located. Volunteering also allows both states and airlines to gain early experience of carbon trading while the costs of the scheme are at their lowest.


While the success of CORSIA is vital to aviation’s plan to reduce CO2 emissions, it is by no means the only action the industry is taking. In 2008, leaders from all sectors of the global aviation industry gathered to commit to three emissions reduction goals, which aviation is pursuing through a four-pillar strategy. Working to ensure the agreement on CORSIA was just one of those four pillars.

To make long-term reductions in CO2, aviation is working hard to develop the other three pillars of new less carbon-intensive technology, more efficient operations, and better infrastructure.

Through a combination of these four areas of action, aviation can reach its long-term goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050, compared to 2005 levels.

We have already achieved so much (did you know a flight you take today will produce around half the CO2 than the same flight in 1990?) and colleagues across the industry are working on ways to reduce fuel use and emissions. Just check out our Aviation Climate Solutions report for 101 case studies of climate action already underway.

CORSIA will help us to meet our climate obligations in the mid-term, whilst also allowing aviation to continue to grow and provide jobs and economic benefits through improved connectivity.