July 8, 2020

The Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recently chose to exclude 2020 emissions levels from baseline calculations for the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). The council’s decision applies to the Pilot Phase of CORSIA, which will run from 2021-2023.

Flight activity in 2020 has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and would have established artificially low averages, thereby increasing costs in later years to aircraft operators.

CORSIA is one part of a plan to reduce carbon emissions from international civil aviation and achieve carbon-neutral growth. The CORSIA baseline was originally planned to be the average level of emissions between 2019 and 2020, setting the basis for costs to aircraft operators from 2021-2035.

In 2016 ICAO responded to a call – issued by the International Business Aviation Association (IBAC), in coordination with NBAA and other IBAC-member groups – for a small-emitter exemption from CORSIA for nearly all business aircraft operators. The exemption recognizes that business aviation accounts for only a small fraction of global emissions, and has demonstrated continuous progress in emissions reduction.

Earlier this year, NBAA welcomed IBAC’s call for ICAO to adjust the CORSIA baseline. “NBAA is an advocate of emissions-reductions measures, but strongly encourages ICAO to use flight activity averages from 2019, which are more representative of typical air traffic, rather than to include flight activity from 2020, which has been so significantly impacted by the worldwide pandemic,” NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen noted at the time.

NBAA urged the council to consider the impact of COVID-19 on the worldwide aviation industry not just in the Pilot Phase, but also in later phases of CORSIA implementation.