Airline industry clears forest carbon credits for takeoff


In a historic announcement, the worldwide civil aviation industry has paved the way in which for airways to assist neutralize their local weather footprint by defending nature.  

This week, the Worldwide Civil Aviation Group (ICAO), an company of the UN that units international aviation requirements, accepted two forest-carbon packages from which airways can purchase carbon credits. The acquisition of those credits represents a discount of climate-warming carbon emissions to compensate for emissions made someplace else. These “nature-based” credits — below the UN framework often known as Decreasing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, or REDD+ — fund protections for forests that take up and retailer carbon from the ambiance.  

Regardless of important enhancements in effectivity lately, aviation stays one of many world’s high carbon-emitting sectors, and specialists who’ve been following the ICAO proceedings hailed this week’s announcement.  

“The science is clear — the world cannot meet its climate goals without significantly scaling up the protection of nature,” mentioned Maggie Comstock, a senior director of local weather coverage at Conservation Worldwide, who contributed technical recommendation to ICAO all through the method. “Carbon credits generated through the conservation and restoration of forests can provide high-quality emissions for airlines while protecting wildlife, keeping ecosystems intact and contributing to local livelihoods. 

“This is a win for the industry and a win for nature.”  

Underneath ICAO, international locations agreed to cap emissions from international aviation at 2020 ranges, requiring airways to make use of extra environment friendly plane, higher operational practices and various jet fuels. Nevertheless, even with these enhancements, a big emissions hole will stay earlier than the fast-growing sector — which was transferring 4 billion passengers a yr earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic hit — can attain its said aim of carbon-neutral progress.   

To fill that hole, ICAO created a carbon market — formally often known as the Carbon Offsetting and Discount Scheme for Worldwide Aviation (CORSIA) — whereby airways can purchase carbon credits from accepted packages. This week’s announcement from ICAO permits the inclusion of forest-based carbon credits from particular REDD+ packages, significantly in growing international locations, as an eligible offset kind for airways below CORSIA.

Beginning in January  2021, airways flying between international locations which have signed on to the preliminary  “phase”  of CORSIA are required to scale back emissions from worldwide flights that exceed their 2019 emission ranges.  Since airline journey has nosedived throughout the pandemic — lowering the industry’s 2020 emissions ranges to far under the place they had been in 2019 — demand for offsets will probably be low within the brief time period and certain enhance because the airline industry recovers, specialists say. 

As CORSIA expands over time to incorporate extra international locations — and air journey rebounds, presumably — the corresponding enhance in emissions will have to be diminished or offset, together with probably by way of REDD+ credits.

The inclusion of REDD+ credits as an eligible offset kind is important step, specialists mentioned, in serving to to mainstream probably the most modern concepts in conservation. REDD+, a United Nations-backed coverage and incentives framework, allows international locations to guard forests to attain the emissions cuts required below the 2015 Paris Settlement; this week’s announcement, they contend, heralds a serious step towards making REDD+ an efficient weapon within the battle towards local weather change.  

“ICAO’s decision sends an important signal to countries that halting deforestation and restoring degraded ecosystems is an urgent, global priority and that the international aviation industry will be a leader in investing in nature-based solutions to climate change through the purchase of high-quality carbon offsets,” mentioned James Roth, the senior vice chairman of world coverage and authorities affairs at Conservation Worldwide.  

“Nature offers at least 30 percent of the solution to climate change but currently receives less than 3 percent of climate-related funding,” Roth continued. “That needs to change if we are going to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and this announcement helps put us on that path.” 

In March, ICAO set limits concerning the age and origin of eligible credits: Solely initiatives that began to problem credits after 2016 will probably be eligible, and for the time being, solely models generated between 2016 by way of 2020 will probably be accepted for the voluntary within the preliminary part. Going ahead, every carbon-credit program can “unlock” post-2020 credits after assembly extra necessities to forestall double-counting of emission reductions with international locations’ nationwide commitments below the Paris Settlement. 



Bruno Vander Velde is the senior communications director at Conservation Worldwide. Need to learn extra tales like this? Join for e-mail updates right here. Donate to Conservation Worldwide right here.

Cowl picture: The Alto Mayo Protected Forest, Peru (© Conservation Worldwide/picture by Bailey Evans)


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