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What is CORSIA and how does it affect your airline?
02 May 2023

What is CORSIA and how does it affect your airline?

3 minute read
Corporate climate action
Agnieszka Kwolek Business Development Manager - Aviation & Shipping Expert

We have summarised the three key things that you should know in order to future-proof your business.

1. What is CORSIA?

CORSIA is the world's first mandatory sector-specific compliance carbon pricing scheme. The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) is a global scheme to ensure the low carbon growth of the international aviation sector from 2020 onward. Agreed in October 2016 by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal, it obliges most airlines to monitor and report their emissions from 2019 and to purchase emission reduction units generated by carbon projects in other sectors to compensate for any growth in the sector's CO2 emissions above 2020 levels from 2021.

To comply with CORSIA, the international aviation sector has several options (baskets of measures):

  • The surrender of eligible carbon credits
  • The consumption of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)
  • Improved ground operations, air traffic management, and infrastructure and the deployment of more fuel-efficient aircraft

2. Does CORSIA affect your airline?

CO2 emissions monitoring and reporting is mandatory for all CORSIA-regulated operators from 1st January 2019. Offsetting will not be mandatory for a few years, but if you operate internationally, it is very likely it will affect your airline particularly if you meet the following criteria:

  • Aircraft weighs more than 5,700kg on takeoff
  • 10,000 tonnes of CO2 emitted annually on international routes
  • Operating for more than three years
  • Both states connecting the route your airline is flying are participating in the Pilot or First Phase of the scheme

Many countries have already signed up to the Pilot Phase of the scheme for 2021-2023. Read more here.

3. What do you need to do to comply with CORSIA and when do you need to do it?

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2019-2020: Monitoring and reporting

All qualifying airlines in ICAO member countries were obliged to begin monitoring reporting emissions on 1st January 2019. The final deadline to submit a monitoring plan was 28th February 2019. Operators had to hire an accredited third party to verify their emission report before submitting it to the relevant national authority by 30th May 2020.

Data collected in 2019 and 2020 was used to establish an emissions baseline and help determine offset requirements for 2021.

Starting from 2022, emission reports for the previous year are due by 30th April.

2021-2026: Offsetting in the early phases

CORSIA makes use of a route-based approach, meaning that compliance obligations apply to flights between CORSIA-participating countries. Participation in the market-based mechanism is voluntary between 2021 and 2026. Countries with large international aviation markets opting into the scheme during this six-year period include the UK, the U.S. and Australia. Notable non-participants are China, Russia, India (joining from 2027) and Brazil.

In any year from 2021 when international aviation CO2 emissions covered by CORSIA exceed the average baseline emissions, these emissions must be compensated for via the surrender of eligible carbon credits. Between 2021 and 2029, sectoral crediting obligations are being divided among participating airplane operators based solely on the sector's global average growth factor of emissions in a given year. Beginning in 2030, crediting obligations will be determined based on the average growth factor in emissions not only of the sector but also of individual operators.

2027-2035: Mandatory offsetting in Second Phase

Beginning in 2027, participation in CORSIA will become mandatory for most states and so apply to almost all international routes. The only exemptions after 2027 will be those to and from states with low aviation activity, or classified as "Least Developed" "Small Island Developing"or "Landlocked Developing".

Every three years starting in 2025, operators will have to acquire and retire the number of emissions units that match their offsetting obligation for the relevant compliance period.

CORSIA Baseline

Originally, the baseline that was to determine the cap on CO2 emissions for the entire 2021–2035 period was to be based on the average of international aviation's 2019 and 2020 emissions. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and airlines' lobbying for this baseline determination to be modified, on 30 June 2020, the ICAO Council announced that, for the scheme's pilot phase, the value of 2019 emissions would be used for 2020 emissions to avoid inappropriate economic burden on the international aviation industry. Consequently, offsetting obligations are likely to be rather minimal during the pilot phase.

In October 2022, the ICAO Assembly agreed to a new CORSIA baseline for the first and second phases of the scheme: 85% of the international aviation sector's CO2 emissions in 2019. This lowering of the baseline––relative to that which applies in the scheme's Pilot Phase – will lead to larger offsetting obligations for the sector than what it currently faces.

How can South Pole support you?

  • We can support you to build an offset procurement strategy for CORSIA. We can model your offset demand, help navigate offsets eligibility rules, determine best sourcing pathways and assist you in offset tenders.
  • We offer you offsets for CORSIA compliance from our project portfolio, the world's largest, at competitive pricing.
  • We help you engage with environmentally conscious passengers through voluntary carbon offset programs.
  • We develop carbon calculators built into your checkout process, assist in engagement campaigns to increase take-up rates and offer high-quality offsets.
  • We provide CORSIA workshops, from basic 101 CORSIA to customised learning sessions for your Airline.
Talk to us about getting started on your Climate Journey.
Agnieszka Kwolek - Business Development Manager - Aviation & Shipping
Talk to us about getting started on your Climate Journey.
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