Skip to content

Carbon Trading and Offsets



Image credit: Fotorus via Flickr
Image credit: Fotorus via Flickr


Aviation offers a significant challenge to tackling climate change in that there are limited options for reducing emissions from the sector. Globally, passenger growth is expected to outstrip technology and operational improvements meaning that emissions from aviation are expected to continue to rise.

Carbon trading is widely promoted as an approach that allows for emissions reductions to be made where it is most cost effective.

The European Union introduced legislation in 2008 to include emissions from international aviation in its emissions trading scheme. However, it was forced to back down on the inclusion of flights to destinations outside of the EU in 2013 following pressure from several countries including the US, India and China. Flights within the EU, accounting for around 25% of emissions from EU aviation, are still included in the emissions trading scheme.

The United Nations aviation body ICAO, to which the UNFCCC has delegated responsibility for tackling emissions from international aviation, committed in its 2013 Assembly Resolution to working towards a global market based measure for the sector.

The two years leading up to the 2016 Assembly are important years for ICAO’s work on a market based measure. AEF is currently involved in some of the technical preparatory work, including chairing a taskforce looking at market measures, and in 2016 the NGO coalition ICSA, which AEF regularly represents, will be building up awareness of the need for action and working towards the ICAO Assembly.

It is likely that the deal that will emerge from the international negotiations through ICAO will favour an offsetting measure. However, there are still many political obstacles to be overcome before any measure can be agreed.

We will include all updates on ICAO’s work towards a global emissions scheme in this section.