Aviation Industry Wants to Get Rid Of Their Obligations Under EU Emission Trading Scheme

The aviation industry recently floated their idea to pull the industry out of the EU Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) with a new Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). The Council of the International  Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) resolved the pillars of such an alternative scheme at its summit in Montreal atthe end of June, calling it a `landmark decision`.  However, questions are abound.

In 2012 the aviation industry has been included into the EU ETS. The industry is obliged to hold certificates for every ton of CO2 emitted on an intra-European flight. A similar rule is already in place for power plants and the European industry since 2005. If the airlines are emitting more than a particular amount of CO2 that is conceded to them, they have to buy certificates. The idea behind that market-based approach is to incentivize airlines to purchase aircrafts with low fuel consumption.In the run-up to 2012, a global solution had been negotiated, but failed so that the European Union went ahead with a system that covers only EU-flights, accounting for a mere quarter of global emissions from aviation.

The aviation industry and the ICAO are now proposing a new concept called CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation). That scheme shall replace their commitments under the EU ETS. The idea of CORSIA is that the airlines no longer have to buy certificates but that they are obliged to launch compensation measures for their pollution, which can be outside of the aviation industry.

Such a concept could, indeed, be a better alternative to the EU ETS - at least in theory. The crux, with CORSIA, however, is that the scheme shall only catch those emissions created in addition to a baseline of aviation-emissions. The baseline shall be 2020, so the aviation industry would not have to offset any future emissions that are within the range of those churned out in 2020. An innovative aspect of CORSIA, however, is that cerosin, produced in refineries with the help of renewable energy, shall be viewed as a climate-friendly alternative fuel. Refineries are using hydrogen to refine cerosin from crude oil. This hydrogen could be produced via electrolysis and the Power-to-Gas technology by using renewable electricity as input.
But even this innovation is limited as it does not alter the actual composition of the cerosin as such,  - burning cerosin produced with the help of renewable electricity will be just as harmfull to the climate as cerosin produced with the help of fossil fuels. More information (German language version only) including a statement of the German aviation industry can be found here.


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