Airlines face a big problem with numbers when it comes to the sector’s Carbon Offset and Reduction System for International Aviation (CORSIA) — the planned global measure to offset the sector’s emissions growth above 2020 levels.
That’s because we’re not quite sure how CORSIA’s numbers will add up. As airline emissions continue to grow, airlines will need to buy an increasing number of offsets from other sectors. But the Paris Agreement makes this tricky, as all states have submitted pledges which aim to be economy-wide, and increase in ambition over time. So, when an airline buys an offset, how can it be sure that the emission reduction isn’t being claimed by a state or someone else?
There are many ways that CORSIA can screw up the numbers: for example, if the same emission reduction is sold to two different airlines, or sold once but claimed elsewhere. This is worrying because: given the sector’s major and growing climate impact, it badly needs a working mitigation measure that can assure who should claim what reduction.
The good news is that states, airlines, and civil society are hard at work trying to fix this problem. However, the UN agency running this measure, ICAO, can’t solve this problem on its own.
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