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CORSIA and the UK Emissions Trading System: now is not the right time to reduce carbon pricing in the aviation sector

4th March, 2021

Update: May 2021

The Government published its response to the consultation on 28 April 2021.

With regard to AEF’s suggestion that reporting data could be used to support better environmental information for the public, the Government’s response noted that data collected by public bodies can only be used by that body for the purposes for which it was collected. However, it will look to publish additional data where possible, and measures to improve consumer information will be considered in DfT’s upcoming strategy on net zero aviation.

With regard to the options on how to treat flights that are subject to the requirements of both CORSIA and the UK emissions trading system, the comments received will be taken into account and addressed as part of a second consultation which it plans to publish in summer 2021.

AEF has responded to the Department for Transport’s consultation Implementing the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), which also posed questions about the best way to address the overlap, on some routes, with the requirements of the UK’s emissions trading system, the UK ETS (while CORSIA will apply to all international departures from the UK, the UK ETS applies to domestic departures and international flights to EEA states). 

CORSIA is a scheme adopted by the UN aviation agency, ICAO, to keep net emissions from international aviation at or below 2020 levels, primarily using eligible offsets. States can participate voluntarily in the first two phases of the scheme, from 2021 to 2026, before it  becomes mandatory in 2027. However, if a state does elect to participate in the voluntary phases, it’s compulsory for all its (qualifying) operators to comply. The UK is a participating state and the Department for Transport has consulted on how to implement the requirements into UK law.

In our response, we support using ICAO’s CORSIA SARP (Standards and Recommended Practices), but argue that provision should be made to allow the reported information to be used for other purposes, such as better environmental information for the public. We also stress that due to the significantly lower carbon price of CORSIA units, airline operators with international flights covered by the UK’s emission trading scheme should be required to comply both with the CORSIA scheme and the UK ETS (which has replaced the EU ETS under Brexit). Effectively exempting overlapping routes from the UK ETS because they are covered by CORSIA, the Government’s favoured option, would mean airlines paying substantially less for those emissions than they do today, and less than other sectors will pay to meet their UK ETS obligations. This would be a backward step at a time when carbon pricing is seen as essential to accelerate decarbonisation of the sector.  

To read our full response, click here.