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Aviation and shipping

Although all Parties to the Paris Agreement have agreed to operate ambitious climate change policies, emissions from international aviation – which are not covered by the Agreement – continue to rise. The International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) has set itself the goal of stabilising net emissions from the aviation sector from 2020 onwards. To enable carbon-neutral growth in the aviation sector as of 2020, a range of measures will be used: increased efficiency in ground operations, optimised flight routes, use of biofuels and improved efficiency in global aircraft fleets. However, given the growth seen in the aviation sector, these measures will be nowhere near enough to harness its future emissions.

Thus, in autumn 2016, the ICAO General Assembly decided to adopt a global market-based mechanism – the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). The mechanism will be used to offset emissions from aviation with certified climate change mitigation projects on the ground. CORSIA’s phased introduction involves voluntary participation from 2021, with all countries – except
the poorest developing countries – being required to participate from 2027. Some 70 countries, including Germany, have already declared their willingness to participate in CORSIA voluntarily. This means that more than two-thirds of international aviation will be covered by the CORSIA scheme.

Under CORSIA, a variety of certification programmes will likely be used. These must meet the standardised approval criteria adopted by the ICAO Council in March 2019. The criteria ensure that only programmes are approved which – among other things – ensure that certified reductions are additional and are not counted more than once. For programme assessment and approval, a dedicated body – the CORSIA Technical Advisory Body (TAB) – was formed. The TAB was also given the task of developing additional implementation rules which must be approved by the ICAO Council before the mechanism can go into effect in 2021. 

Under the Paris Agreement, as with emissions from aviation, emissions from international shipping are not taken into account in most Parties’ NDCs. This is partly due to the difficulty in assigning the greenhouse gas emissions caused to a particular country because, in most cases, in a given ocean transport there are companies from various countries involved. Responsibility for climate change policy on shipping is thus seen to lie with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). In April 2018, the IMO agreed an initial strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The strategy contains three goals:

  • To reduce the carbon intensity of individual ships.
  • To reduce the carbon intensity of international shipping by at least 40 percent by 2030 compared with 2008 levels and to pursue efforts to reduce those emissions by 70 percent by 2050.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions in international shipping should peak as quickly as possible. Annual GHG emissions should be reduced by at least 50 percent by 2050 (compared with 2008) and efforts are to be pursued to bring emission levels in line with the Paris Agreement goals.

To achieve these goals, market-based measures are also to be used. How these might look is currently a matter of discussion within the IMO.

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