Just Mobility

Exit from CORSIA

What´s the problem?

The UN special organisation ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) is responsible for the interests of international air traffic and is also supposed to ensure emission reductions in this area. After years of delay, it finally sets up a mechanism called CORSIA, which stands for "Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation". This mechanism is mainly based on the compensation of emissions: Airlines are to buy credits for the CO2 emissions that will be added from 2020. These come from projects claiming to reduce emissions, such as tree plantations or hydroelectric power plants. The aim is to achieve "CO2-neutral growth" in international air travel from 2020, but the problem is that CO2 offsetting does not work! The compensation projects are either to avoid emissions elsewhere, which at best results in a zero-sum game, which brings us no closer to our climate goals. Or the projects are supposed to extract and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, whereby the long-term nature of this storage cannot be guaranteed under any circumstances. A reforested forest, for example, can be cut down or burned down at any time. In the past, most offset projects have not achieved the promised savings: In the case of the UN's Clean Development Mechanism, the most common offset mechanism, for example, according to a study by the Öko-Institut for the European Commission, this is very likely for only 2% of the projects. Apart from the fact that CO2 compensation is of little relevance to the climate, the system behind it is also highly questionable for ethical reasons: It is an indulgence trade for mainly societies and industries in the Global North that do not want to question their way of life and production. The processing of climate problems is being outsourced - to places where it is cheaper to store emissions: To the → Global South, where the majority of offset projects are located. Many of these projects lead to human rights violations, for example in connection with dam projects or the restriction of traditional forest use. Furthermore, CORSIA ignores the scientific facts: Air traffic is not only problematic because of CO2 emissions, but also produces other climate-heating substances. Moreover, CORSIA is voluntary for countries for the first few years. Furthermore, CORSIA is pushing the use of agrofuels to replace kerosene with "alternatives" - including palm oil. These are the main reasons why CORSIA serves primarily the image of ICAO and the aviation industry. Meanwhile, it prevents other, more effective measures to limit flights and their harmful effects on the climate.

What´s the measure?

CORSIA must not be recognized as a legitimate, sufficient measure for emission reduction in international aviation. To demonstrate this, Germany and the EU must withdraw from the corresponding agreement. The emissions of international aviation (including non-CO2 effects) should be included in the national reduction targets of all states and controlled by the UNFCCC. Effective measures such as the taxation of kerosene, the shifting of flights to rail and others must replace the sham CO2 compensation.

How will this counteract climate change?

The recognition that CORSIA cannot bring about climate protection deprives the industry of its biggest greenwashing argument. On an individual level, this can lead to reduced use of flights, on a systemic level other, more effective reduction measures must be applied.

What other effects does the measure have?

Offsetting plays a role not only in aviation but also in many CO2-intensive industries that do not want to forego growth. An exit from CORSIA could give an impetus to a public debate about the injustice and ineffectiveness of CO2 compensation.

Problems of social, global and generational justice

The system of "flying" is incredibly unfair in many different dimensions: The aviation sector is heavily subsidized by governments, i.e. every one of us pays for it. Only about 10% of the world's population has ever boarded a plane, and even fewer people fly a lot. Air travel is part of our imperial lifestyle, which is only possible because other people bear the consequences.

Further literature and sources

  1. Cames, Harthan, Füssler et al. (2016): How additional is the Clean Development Mechanism?,
  2. World Rainforest Movement (Hrsg.) (2016): REDD: A Collection of Conflicts, Contradictions and Lies,