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ICAO Council approves criteria for CORSIA emissions units and structure for new body overseeing eligibility


The ICAO Council has approved – unanimously, according to one source – the Emissions Units Criteria (EUC) that will underpin the environmental integrity of carbon offset credits to be used by airlines under the CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation. Agreement was also reached by the Council at its 216th Session for the operationalisation of the Technical Advisory Body (TAB), a group of experts nominated by States that will recommend to the Council eligible units against the criteria. Emissions unit programmes that wish to be considered for eligibility in CORSIA will be invited to apply for consideration by the TAB and applications will be made available for public comment. As yet, it is unclear whether Council members agreed on whether a vintage date should be applied to offset projects or on the composition of the TAB membership.
The formation of the TAB and adoption of the EUC was tasked to the Council in the CORSIA resolution (A39-3, para 20) passed at ICAO’s last Assembly in 2016. The proposed EUC was drafted over a year ago and a Programme Testing Group (PTG) set up within ICAO’s environmental technical committee (CAEP) has carried out informal testing of seven emissions unit programmes against the EUC.
Emissions unit programmes administer and facilitate the use of ‘rule-sets’, which define how third parties must design and implement mitigation activities to earn emissions units. The EUC now approved by the Council include carbon offset credit integrity criteria that would be expected to be found in a programme’s rule-set (see below). The EUC also include programme design elements – procedures and systems that programmes should have in place for governing their rule-sets (see below). The PTG is understood to have found the EUC meet the purpose of identifying programmes with robust environmental integrity and recommended the Council use its work as a starting point for the TAB’s work.
CAEP has also provided input and advice to the Council on additional rules of procedure for the TAB. The Council has now further approved the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the new body, including its mandate, tasks and working methods. Based on the TOR, says ICAO, the TAB will initiate work by defining its work programme and timeline.
All States have been invited to nominate experts to the TAB, which is expected to comprise 14 to 16 members, although could be more, and take into account geographical representation. Nominees are required to submit personal declarations regarding conflicts of interest and commit to the work of the TAB for at least one full compliance cycle (three years) of CORSIA.
According to ICAO, an open invitation will be issued on its CORSIA website to emissions unit programmes that wish to apply to be considered by the TAB for eligibility in CORSIA. Submitted applications will be published on the website and the public will be invited to submit comments on the submissions for consideration by the TAB, promises ICAO.
“These decisions related to the TAB are critical to the Council’s adoption of eligible units for CORSIA, representing another milestone in fulfilling the related requests by the 2016 Assembly,” commented Council President Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu.

CORSIA Emissions Unit Eligibility Criteria
Criteria for emissions unit integrity:
  1. Are additional
  2. Are based on a realistic and credible baseline
  3. Are quantified, monitored, reported and verified
  4. Have a clear and transparent chain of custody
  5. Represent permanent emissions reductions
  6. Assess and mitigate against potential increase in emissions elsewhere
  7. Are only counted once towards a mitigation obligation
  8. Do no net harm
Criteria for emissions unit programme design elements:
  1. Clear methodologies and protocols and their development process
  2. Scope considerations
  3. Offset credit issuance and retirement procedures
  4. Identification and tracking
  5. Legal nature and transfer of units
  6. Programme governance
  7. Transparency and public participation provisions
  8. Safeguards system
  9. Sustainable development criteria
  10. Avoidance of double counting, issuance and claiming
The full version of the emissions unit eligibility criteria has now been posted on the ICAO CORSIA website here

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