The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is to adopt new standards for emissions monitoring with the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).
The new standards and recommended practises will apply to all UN member states from 1st January 2019. While the industry is already pursuing improved technology and fuel efficiency, the new market-based scheme is designed to account for the remaining emissions that will need to be offset to meet industry targets for reduced emissions.
In 2009, the Airport Council International (ACI), Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO), International Air Travel Association (IATA) and International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations (ICCAIA)—between them representing the international air transport industry—committed to three industry-wide targets: 1.5% year-on-year improvement in aviation fuel efficiency; a cap on net carbon dioxide emissions from 2020; and a 50% reduction in net carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, compared to 2005 levels.
Between 2009 and 2016, the fuel efficiency of airlines improved 10.2%. It’s currently measured at 35.28 litres per 100 revenue tonne-kilometres (RTK), which is an industry metric that quantifies the amount of revenue-generating payload carried (passenger and cargo) in relation to the distance travelled.
According to IATA, each new generation of aircraft is on average 20% more fuel efficient than the models it replaces. Airlines are set to invest around $1.3 trillion in new planes over the next decade.
Under CORSIA, it’s estimated that the aviation industry will have to offset 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide between 2021 and 2035, by financing carbon reduction initiatives outside of the industry. Until now, investing in such initiatives has largely been voluntary.
All operators with annual CO2 emissions greater than 10,000 tonnes will have to report their emissions on an annual basis.