Airlines urge - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, GHG Emissions  -  April 13, 2020

Airlines urge global emissions agreement to ease regulations during COVID-19

Member airlines of the International Air Transport Association (Iata) are lobbying the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to amend the global agreement for offsetting and reducing airline industry emissions as they deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus.

The carbon offsetting and reduction scheme for international aviation (Corsia) currently requires that airlines pay to offset any growth in carbon emissions above a baseline of the average emissions of 2019 and 2020, The Guardian reported. As more and more flights are grounded during the pandemic, that average will decrease and member airlines will have a harder time not exceeding that baseline.

The Corsia agreement was just finalized on March 13. But, according to The Guardian, Iata told ICAO that some nations could pull out of the agreement if costs were too high and that the solution is adjusting the baseline to “avoid an inappropriate economic burden” so that the industry can recover.

“Calls to reduce burdens on the [aviation] sector as it recovers are understandable,” James Elliott, a Green Alliance policy adviser, told the publication in response to the Iata concerns. “But the climate emergency also presents an urgent challenge which must be addressed. If the sector cannot find ways to rebuild itself sustainably after the COVID-19 crisis, it will face painful disruption again in the future as its part in the climate emergency has to be addressed. If Corsia is amended, it must be done in a way which also strengthens its ambition, with targets to limit and reduce actual emissions levels.”

Other critics have expressed concerns that airlines are “dodging their obligations” by using the pandemic to skirt emission reduction goals. However, member airlines are advocating for help in order to ensure their survival when the pandemic ends.

“We haven’t given up our environmental goals … After the recovery, we will continue to reduce emissions and noise footprints – that hasn’t changed,” Iata Director General Alexandre de Juniac said. “This crisis is a matter of survival for the industry … We are asking governments for urgent help. Of course we will comply with our environmental obligations. Before that, we have to survive – or there will be no issue with the environment, the industry will have disappeared.”

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