Europe meets its objective – a carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation to take effect in 2021

Press release 11.10.2019 12.46 fi sv en

The Finnish delegation in Montreal. (Photo: Ahokas/Ministry of Transport and Comunications)

Europe was able to achieve its objectives at the General Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), where the focus again was on climate and environmental issues. The most important objective was to promote Corsia, a scheme that obligates airlines to offset carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation. Corsia stands for Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation. The General Assembly of ICAO, that operates under the UN, was held in Montreal from 24 September to 4 October 2019.

“The negotiations were not easy, so I am very pleased with the outcome. Aviation is a global business and that is why it is important to agree on global climate solutions for the sector. However, we should also be ambitious in the European Union and on national level as regards the reduction of air traffic emissions,” says Minister of Transport and Communications Sanna Marin.

It was decided in the meeting that the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) and the ICAO Council would continue the preparation of Corsia on a tight schedule. The aim is to cap carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation at 2020 levels. Airlines would offset any emissions above that level by purchasing emission units from the carbon market.

Corsia began to monitor, report and verify emissions this year. However, the scheme will be implemented in its entirety at the beginning of 2021, when the emission offsetting obligations will take effect. In the General Assembly vote, a clear majority of the ICAO member states supported the offsetting system. 

Finland, in line with the European guidelines, was in favour of ICAO adopting the Long-Term Goal (LTG) for reduction of emissions in international aviation as soon as possible. It was decided in the meeting that the organisation would focus on the preparation of long-term emission reduction targets in order for the member states to decide on such targets and the ways to implement them at the next General Assembly in 2022. 

In its statements, Finland highlighted the need to introduce more effective measures to increase the use of renewable aviation fuels. In fact, the Finnish Government Programme’s aim to raise the share of renewable aviation fuel to 30% by 2030 through blending obligation roused considerable interest. 

Finland becomes member of ICAO Council

Finland was elected from the Nordic rotation group as a member of the ICAO Council – the highest decision-making power of the organisation – for the next term of 2019-2022. Finland is represented by Samuli Vuokila from the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom. For the past three years, he has served as deputy representative of the Nordic Cooperation Group in the ICAO Council. The Council has 36 members. The membership provides Finland with a better opportunity to influence, among other things, climate issues in aviation.

The ICAO General Assembly also discussed issues related to airspace management, unmanned aircraft and aviation safety. More than 2,400 representatives from 184 countries and 55 international organisations attended the meeting. 

What next?

The next ICAO General Assembly will be held in 2022. The preparation of long-term emission reduction targets for aviation will begin both at the ICAO bodies and the regional meetings held annually. This will enable all member states to participate in the preparation of the emission reduction targets and create the basis for decision-making in 2022.


Senior Officer Janne Mänttäri tel. +358 400 693 544, Twitter @janne_manttari