EU accepts ICAO CORSIA rules package but has concerns over emissions units and sustainable fuels criteria
Wed 7 Mar 2018 – The European Union has signalled its general acceptance of the ICAO CORSIA Package proposals that were sent to ICAO Member States for comment. The Package contains the Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) technical rules for the international aviation carbon offsetting scheme that will apply to States and aeroplane operators from 2019. A letter to ICAO signed by Filip Cornelis, Director of Aviation at the European Commission’s transport directorate, says that while the EU “is not completely satisfied” with elements of the package, in the interests of reaching and maintaining ICAO agreement, the EU endorsed the consensus reached by the governing ICAO Council and strongly urged the adoption of the proposed package without further amendment. The consultation with ICAO States formally ended on Monday, although online publication Carbon Pulse reports ICAO has extended the deadline.
The letter says the proposed package represented “a delicate compromise” between the various ICAO working groups and bodies, and the EU had shown “significant flexibility so far” in the negotiating process. However, it adds, any attempts to weaken key elements of the proposals “would be strongly opposed.”
The letter is referring to perceived efforts by some countries to water down the sustainability criteria for alternative aviation fuels, widen the eligibility criteria for emissions units and weaken transparency of the scheme, “all of them critical to CORSIA’s environmental effectiveness and uniform application,” it points out.
In the event it was decided to re-open discussions on the SARPs text, the EU letter attached amended text proposals that it said would improve the environmental performance of scheme, which were consistent with the positions already taken by EU States.
These include wording to ensure emissions unit eligibility criteria and sustainability criteria for eligibility of sustainable aviation fuels was mandatory and consistently applied. “Their integrity is to be maintained for an effective functioning of the scheme,” says the attachment. “There should be no discretion or exception in their application in order to guarantee legal certainty and a level playing field between States and aeroplane operators.”
The EU also proposes wording on emissions unit vintages to ensure units can only eligible under CORSIA from projects with a start date after the passing of the ICAO CORSIA Resolution A39-3, namely 31 December 2016. “CORSIA has only an environmental added value compared to a scenario without CORSIA if it leads to the generation of additional emission reductions. Emission reductions that have already been achieved prior to agreement by the ICAO Assembly on the CORSIA Resolution would have already been generated even in the absence of CORSIA,” it argues.
The EU also suggests the CORSIA Central Registry include added reporting data from aeroplane operators and says public access to information on CORSIA functioning is central to its credibility, environmental integrity and a level playing field between operators.
The letter reminds ICAO that work still has to be finalised on a number of key issues – which include registries, eligible emissions units and on further “sustainability criteria themes” – that needed to be adopted before the end of the pilot phase in 2023.
It concludes: “The outcome of these discussions is considered by the European Union as key for the environmental integrity of CORSIA.”
As a non-State, the European Union only has ad-hoc observer status at ICAO. However, the letter is understood to form a coordinated reply from all EU States, although the States may have submitted additional responses of their own. The letter notes that of the 73 countries that have so far volunteered to participate in CORSIA from the start, 44 are States of the European Civil Aviation Convention (ECAC).
A US State Department official told GreenAir that the United States response to the ICAO consultation would not be publicly posted but would be shared with US stakeholders, including airlines and NGOs.
Update Thu 8 Mar 2018:
A copy of the United States’ response to the CORSIA Package consultation seen by GreenAir indicates general support for the proposals and reaffirms its support for the ICAO CORSIA A39-3 resolution. It also makes a point of noting the scheme is to be the exclusive market-based measure for international aviation that would avoid “a patchwork of country- or regionally-based regulatory measures that are inconsistently applied, bureaucratically costly, and economically damaging.”
The US welcomes the high level of commitment by States to participate in CORSIA from the initial pilot phase. “Our support for Resolution A39-3 and CORSIA assumes that such participation is maintained, particularly by countries with significant aviation activity, on a basis that is consistent with the SARPs, as well as that the final CORSIA package is acceptable to, and implementable by, the United States.”
In its comments on the Package, the US recommends that no substantive changes are made and stresses it would oppose any changes to the draft text on a number of key provisions. These include, for example, certain requirements relating to the MRV system on emissions and sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), and also aspects of the emissions unit criteria and SAF sustainability criteria. It suggests clarity amendments regarding fuels so that only the terms “aviation fuel” and “sustainable aviation fuel” should be used throughout the SARPs.
The submission concludes: “Should any elements of the package be reopened or reconsidered, the United States reserves the opportunity to provide our preferred edits to the text for consideration.”