As least six European countries have threatened to pull out of the aviation industry’s sustainability scheme if its environmental standards are weakened any further.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)’s scheme, known as the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), contains measures to compensate aviation emissions via mass purchase of carbon offsets (including forest offsets), and to increase use of biofuels.
In leaked documents published by the NGO Transport & Environment on 6 June 2018, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Finland and Norway stated that if rules around the robustness of offset credits or the deforestation impacts of biofuels were further diminished, they would withdraw their participation in the scheme. The European Commission had sent a letter to ICAO on 1 March warning the same.
CORSIA’s rules have also met heavy criticism from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including most recently from ninety NGOs on 11 June, for the negative impact these plans would have on forests and forest-dependent peoples.
Fern research published in October 2017 revealed that forest-based offsets were particularly unlikely to be robust enough to offset aviation emissions effectively. Following this research, Virgin Airlines pulled out of one of the offset projects that, Fern had revealed, was causing deforestation and human rights abuses (FW 230). Offsets are even causing controversy at the Russia World Cup.
Countries and aviation industry representatives are meeting from 11 - 29 June for the ICAO Council meeting at ICAO headquarters in Montreal, Canada, and will be discussing the rules for CORSIA.