UNFCCC agreement paves the way for some aviation emission reduction projects to be eligible under CDM
Thu 26 Feb 2015 – Projects that lead to reductions in aviation-related emissions could soon by eligible under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The CDM allows emission reduction projects in developing countries to earn certified emission reduction (CER) credits – each equivalent to one tonne of CO2 – that can be traded and used by industrialised countries to meet a part of their targets under the Kyoto Protocol. At a meeting last week, the Executive Board that supervises the CDM agreed to develop three methodologies initially that would include projects such as solar power for at-gate aircraft, green taxiing and aircraft engine washing. Under the Protocol, projects to reduce emissions from domestic flights and at airports in developing countries are already eligible to be included in the CDM but emissions resulting from international flights, even if they take off, fly over or land in developing countries, have not so far been eligible. ICAO welcomed the move towards adopting the new methodologies.
In order to ensure the environmental integrity of the CDM, methodologies are required to establish a project’s emissions baseline, or expected emissions without the project, and to monitor the actual ongoing emissions once a project is implemented. The difference between the baseline and the actual emissions determines what a project is eligible to earn in the form of credits. Once developed, a new emissions baseline and monitoring methodology could be used by projects in the aviation sector to quantify their emissions reductions and earn saleable credits for those reductions.
“This methodology will add an important tool to the aviation industry’s environmental toolbox,” said CDM Executive Board Chair Lambert Schneider. “We think it’s important to support the sector’s efforts to reduce emissions, and at the same time expand the usefulness of the CDM to address emissions from transport.”
The ICAO Secretariat has been cooperating closely on the issue with counterparts at the UNFCCC, which supports the Board in administering the CDM. “We proposed these methodologies be considered and we are delighted that they are now under active consideration in the CDM regulatory process,” Jane Hupe, ICAO’s Environment Chief, told GreenAir.
She cautioned that the Board had not yet approved the three methodologies in question but, she added: “If they can be successfully developed, ICAO believes they will create a powerful incentive to implement projects that reduce emissions in, and deliver financial and technological support to, developing countries.”
Credits issued by these projects could hold significant appeal to aircraft operators and other entities seeking to neutralise their own emissions, she said.
“Even if today international aviation projects are not eligible for CDM credits, the development of these methodologies is a very good step and they would also be useful for international aviation emissions reduction estimates, for example in respect of State Action Plans.”
Hupe said this was also in line with the ICAO Assembly Resolution passed in 2013 that recognised in the short term, voluntary carbon offsetting schemes constituted a practical way to offset CO2 emissions, and which invited States to encourage their aircraft operators wishing to take early action to use carbon offsetting, particularly through the use of credits generated from internationally recognised schemes such as the CDM.
The Executive Board also agreed at its meeting to further simplification of the CDM while maintaining environmental integrity. “This is an important work programme to further reduce transaction costs for emission reduction projects,” said Schneider.
The CDM has so far led to registration of over 7,800 projects and programmes in 107 developing countries, hundreds of billions of dollars in investment and 1.5 billion fewer tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. However, the prices paid for CERs have plunged following the global economic slowdown and uncertainty over the future of the CDM, with the incentive to create new projects, and even continuing existing projects, having almost disappeared, admits the UNFCCC.
In the run-up to the crucial climate summit in Paris later this year, the Board has therefore urged countries to renew their commitment to the CDM and use it to encourage emissions reductions and drive climate finance, technology transfer, capacity building, sustainable development and adaptation.
Additional reporting 28 Feb 2015:
Responding to the announcement, Michael Gill, IATA Director, Aviation Environment, said: “We welcome the decision by the CDM Executive Board to open up the CDM to projects being implemented in the aviation sector. However, as the new rules specifically apply to ground-based emissions, we wait to see how these projects could be of direct help to aircraft operators in their mitigation efforts. We hope to take part in further discussions to see how these types of projects would fit with a global market-based measure for international aviation. In that regard we strongly support the process currently underway at ICAO.”