By this time next year, several business aircraft operators will have started monitoring their CO2 emissions output as part of ICAO’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) requirements. CORSIA is aimed at curbing the aviation industry’s carbon dioxide footprint worldwide and from January 1 next year commercial operators must measure and report the fuel use and emissions of all international flights.
How many business aircraft operators will be covered by the new rules is unclear for the moment, but most operators are small emitters and will subsequently be exempt from ICAO’s CORSIA requirements, according to both EBAA and NBAA. The ICAO resolution, which was adopted in fall 2016, eliminated operators that produce less than 10,000 metric-tons of CO2 in international flights annually and aircraft with less than 5,700 kg (12,566 lb) of maximum takeoff mass (MTOM). Medical, humanitarian, and firefighting operations are also exempt.
“A good proportion” of European operators fall outside the scope of CORSIA, EBAA senior environment manager Bruce Parry told AIN. Current-generation business jet fleets would need to fly a combined 2,000 hours or more annually in international operations to reach the 10,000-metric-ton threshold, according to NBAA vice president for regulatory and international affairs Doug Carr. Even an Airbus ACJ flying 900 hours per year would fall outside the CORSIA threshold, according to an EBAA chart. “In total, we estimate that fewer than 100 operators in North America will be affected by CORSIA,” Carr noted.
However, Parry warned, operators that are close to the 10,000-metric-ton annual international CO2 emissions threshold might be introduced into the system in case their operations increased over the coming years. “They will have to submit an emissions monitoring plan [like operators above the 10,000-ton-metric threshold] to their administering authority next year,” he said. The CORSIA time frame advises operators to submit an emissions monitoring plan by September 30 , though the formal deadline is February 28, 2019. National authorities are expected to approve the plans by April 30. These plans will include fleet and operations data per operator, methods used for fuel monitoring, methods and means of calculating emissions from international flights, and data management, data flow and control.
Meanwhile, operators qualifying for the program will have to start measuring CO2 emissions from all international flights they operate beginning January 1. The CO2 data from 2019 and 2020 will be used to determine the reference baseline against which future growth in carbon emissions in international flying will be compared and offset.
“This is the right way forward,” said Parry. “The EBAA already in 2009 identified that market-based measures would be a tool to help us achieve our goals on climate change: a reduction of CO2 output by 2 percent per year between 2010 and 2020, carbon neutral growth from 2020 and an overall CO2 reduction of 50 percent from 2005 to 2050.” He recognizes that there will be a cost to administer the scheme and acquire the offsets, though he does not perceive the offset credits to be a tax without jurisdiction. “I wouldn’t call it a tax. There is a cost involved and there is no getting away from that. It is part of our license to operate,” he said. It is “too early” to know how much it will cost business aviation operators to buy the carbon credits, he noted. “They will follow [the global carbon] market costs for other offsets. The higher the quality of the offset, the more expensive. It is difficult to put a price on that at this stage. Supply and demand plays a part in this.”
ICAO has not yet announced which carbon units it will consider. CORSIA guidance and a comprehensive set of standards and recommended practices (SARPs) spelling out the requirements of the program are expected to be formally approved by the ICAO Council in June—for the application from January 1, 2019. ICAO’s 192 member states had until March 5 to send their feedback on a draft text tabled late last year.
The scheme will start in 2021 and is voluntary by states, with mandatory participation not required before 2027. Mid-January, following Namibia’s agreement to join in, 73 states representing 87.7 percent of international aviation RPKs, intend to participate in CORSIA, according to ICAO. All EU countries have signed on to participate in the early phases.
Most of them, however, will remain mum on what they intend to do with the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS) for aviation. Also, the European institutions are vague. The EU late last year adopted legislation to continue limiting the geographic scope of its plans for aviation to intra-European Economic Area (EEA) flights until the end of 2023, when the CORSIA pilot phase ends. “The indication we are getting from the European Commission is that there will be no double counting, so from 2021 onwards the EU ETS will basically revert to domestic flights [in the ICAO sense],” Parry said. A Frankfurt-to-Paris flight would fall under CORSIA, but a Paris-to-Nice flight under the EU ETS. “We need clarity,” he stressed. “Our business aircraft operators want to know where they stand.”