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Impact of COVID-19 on CORSIA: will the baseline change?


Change the baseline or not change the baseline?

As per the SARPs, the CORSIA baseline is calculated as the average of international emissions in the years 2019 and 2020. However, because of the significant impact of the COVID-19 crisis on international traffic and related emissions, the baseline is now expected to be much lower than originally envisaged when CORSIA was designed.

Some call on ICAO to change the rule and only use the year 2019 as the baseline. As it may take several years for the traffic to come back to pre-COVID-19 levels, this may result in no offsetting obligations during several years, which would de facto delay the implementation of CORSIA.

Others call on ICAO not to change anything and keep the original baseline, which may result in a higher financial burden for the airlines than originally expected.

The 220th session of the ICAO Council is planned to meet between 8 and 26 June 2020 to discuss this issue and other relevant matters.

> Visit ICAO's CORSIA and COVID-19 web page

Want to learn more and make up your mind about this difficult and timely topic?

Read the following research papers and articles...

In favor of a switch to 2019:

> IATA position paper (March version) (May version) (website article)
> Proposal from the European Commission (Annex to the proposal) (related GreenAir Online article)
> Position from the Council of the EU (9 June 2020) (related GreenAir Online article)
> Position from the US (Reuters)

In favor of a statu quo:

> Position paper from EDF (Environmental Defense Fund) (slides) (blog) (related GreenAir Online article)
> Open letter by carbon market stakeholders (website article)
> Position paper from the European Parliament
> Research paper from Öko-Institut (website article)
COVID-19’s big impact on ICAO’s CORSIA baseline (ICCT)
CORSIA: 5 reasons why the ICAO Council shouldn’t move now to rewrite the rules of its aviation climate program (EDF)
> CORSIA: CORSIA: No, the ICAO Council can’t legally change CORSIA’s rules (EDF)
> Open letter to ICAO by ICSA

Other articles and research papers:

“Will Covid-19 kill CORSIA?, Refinitiv Carbon Research, June 2020”
> Analysis by ECAC of the options for adjusting the CORSIA baseline

The decision from ICAO Council

On 30th June 2020 the ICAO Council agreed to amend the CORSIA baseline and remove the use of 2020 data so that only emissions data from 2019 is used in the Pilot Phase. 

However, MRV requirements are not amended and operators are still required to monitor, report and verify their 2020 Emissions Report for submission to their State Authorities by 31st May 2021.

CORSIA is due to be reviewed every three years, starting from 2022. This first review will consider whether to extend the 2019 baseline beyond the Pilot Phase.

> More information on ICAO's webpage
> ICAO Council agrees CORSIA baseline change to protect Covid-stricken airline sector from higher carbon costs (GreenAir Online)
Airlines unlikely to require significant amounts of CORSIA offsets for six years, finds Refinitiv analysis (GreenAir Online)
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