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Today, for the first time ever, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) agreed to allow the airline industry to use a global carbon market-based measure known as the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) to achieve its carbon-neutral growth pledge. The plan neither endorsed nor prohibited specific offset types, but instead left the door open for the aviation industry to meet its goal of climate-neutral growth by using forest protection credits to offset any aviation emissions that exceed 2020 levels. A technical committee will be established to decide on offset criteria and specific offset types.

Today’s action constitutes a great starting point for the airline industry’s contribution to the fight against climate change. However, to truly complement the Paris Agreement, the aviation sector will have to improve upon this foundation – by ramping up its ambition to achieve emissions reductions that are in line with the Paris Agreement’s stated goals. Also, in order for ICAO’s decision to be effective, Forest Trends urges the broad participation of all countries, as well as strong environmental integrity criteria to ensure that the new system brings real environmental benefits.

“The airline industry and governments today embraced the use of a global offset plan to help them meet their carbon-reducing pledges. This opens the door for the aviation sector to reduce its emissions in a way that reinforces the commitments in the Paris Agreement soon entering into force. Airlines should meet their pledges by financing forest protection – providing an infusion of funding that will be critical to conserving the world’s forests,” says Gustavo Silva-Chávez, a Program Manager at Forest Trends.