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Offsetting for international Aviation

New paper derives recommendations for ICAO’s proposed mechanism

March 2016 - The states of the world have agreed to a new international climate change agreement in Paris. They agreed to limit global warming “well below 2 °C” and undertake efforts to limit it even to 1.5 °C. More than 185 states have communicated ‘nationally determined contributions’ (NDCs) that in aggregate would reduce global greenhouse gas emission substantially – though not rapid enough. Meanwhile, emissions from international aviation are bound to increase dramatically over the next decades. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has commit to cap the growth of net emission from the international aviation sector after 2020 (Carbon Neutral Growth Goal). A basket of measures shall contribute to achieving this goal, including operational improvements on the ground and in the air, sustainable alternative fuels, and improved aircraft technology. However, these measures will not suffice to achieve ICAO’s goal. ICAO has therefore decided to develop a global market-based measure (MBM) by means of which excess emissions can be offset through certified emission reductions on the ground. At the ICAO General Assembly in autumn 2016 a decision on the matter is due.

A new JIKO Policy Brief summarizes the state of play of the ICAO negotiations. It discusses the proposed global MBM in the light of the CDM experience and derives recommendations for ICAO’s proposed mechanism: the environmental integrity of the mechanism is key to maintain the long-term credibility of the mechanism and an effective international governance system is essential. ICAO should therefore not prematurely designate any existing certification scheme. Instead, ICAO should revert to international units only that are recognized under the UNFCCC in the context of the Paris Agreement.