EU-wide adoption of a new United Nations (UN)-approved carbon offsetting scheme could drastically increase the bloc’s aviation emissions, new research has found.
The ‘Why ICAO and Corsia cannot deliver on climate: a threat to Europe’s climate ambition’ report, produced for European sustainable transport federation Transport & Environment (T&E), identifies a growing gap between projected aviation emissions under the EU’s emissions reduction scheme and those produced under ‘Carbon Offsetting and Reduction for International Aviation’ (Corsia), the UN’s proposed scheme, over the next 10 years. While the EU’s emissions trading system, which compels airlines to pay for all emissions produced by flights within Europe, is projected to cut emissions to the EU’s target of 111 million tonnes of CO2 by 2030, adopting Corsia – which would enable airlines to purchase carbon offsets, paying to reduce emissions elsewhere while maintaining their own – would see emissions across the bloc increase by 683.8 million tonnes of CO2 in the same period: this is equivalent to the combined 2017 CO2 output of France and Poland.
Around 4.9% of manmade global heating is attributed to aviation emissions, which have increased by more than 100% over the last 20 years. T&E notes that the EU is under pressure from the UN’s aviation body, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), to adopt Corsia over its own emissions trading programme. Andrew Murphy, aviation manager at T&E, said: “Is the final act of EU president Juncker and Commissioner Cañete to hand over sovereignty of the EU’s airline emissions to a Potemkin UN scheme? [Incoming European Commission President Ursula] von der Leyen will start the job powerless to regulate Europe’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. EU governments must resist this in Montreal this week. The UN offsetting scheme will allow airlines to go on growing their emissions while paying others for cheap offsets. In a world where every sector needs to reach zero emissions, the sums don’t add up.”