ICAO starts second round of applications from carbon programmes seeking CORSIA offsetting approval
Tue 24 Mar 2020 – ICAO has called for applications from carbon programmes for a second round of assessments against the CORSIA emissions unit criteria for approval to supply eligible emission units, or carbon credits, for offsetting compliance by airlines under the global scheme. The UN agency received 14 applications in the first round, with the governing Council approving six programmes this month and two more being invited to re-apply. Applications for the second round must be submitted by 20 April and ICAO will hold a webinar on 3 April for interested programmes needing to understand the process. Publication of applications is expected by the end of May, to be followed by a public comment period and then assessment by ICAO’s Technical Advisory Body (TAB), with the Council deciding on the TAB’s recommendations later in the year.
The report by the TAB to the ICAO Council on its assessment and recommendations on the first round of programmes came with stipulations for each of the six programmes approved, where the body determined certain aspects of the programme did not meet the eligibility criteria in full.
One of those programmes, the Verified Carbon Standard administered by Verra, said most of its project types were CORSIA-eligible and believed pending restrictions that had been placed by ICAO could be resolved quickly to ensure credits from additional project types would have access to the scheme. In accordance with the thrice-yearly process set out by ICAO, Verra said it would be working with the TAB to submit revisions in April for consideration by the time of the Council’s next meeting in June.
Specific restrictions imposed by the TAB that Verra is working to resolve include crediting periods for emission units issued under jurisdictional and nested REDD+ programmes. This, it said, could be addressed by requiring such programmes wanting to sell verified carbon units (VCUs) into CORSIA to commit to a minimum crediting period of 20 years.
Although most VCS project types are eligible, including Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) projects, Verra said it was disappointed that with regard to some AFOLU project types, a number of activities are only eligible in temperate and boreal forests but not in tropical forests.
“We plan to seek more information about why these projects were excluded and subsequently work to address any gaps and then resubmit documentation for these projects, hoping to see them included at the time of the next assessment,” said Verra in a statement.
The not-for-profit organisation said it would create a label that clearly indicated which VCUs are eligible under CORSIA. In order to secure the label, project or programme proponents would need to meet certain requirements including the minimum crediting periods for both jurisdictional and nested REDD+ programmes and projects nested within them; draft requirements for host country attestations in respect of avoiding double counting; and other requirements as they became clearer, for example the need to use a standalone leakage tool.
“We are honoured that ICAO has recognised the VCS Program for compliance with CORSIA,” commented Naomi Swickard, Verra’s Chief Program Officer. “We work hard to make sure our programme delivers high quality emission reductions and removals, and this validation by ICAO is a testament to all that work.”
Winrock International’s non-profit American Carbon Registry, another of the six programmes adopted, said its application had been approved without limitations for all scopes of activities covered by the eligibility timeframe and vintage.
“American Carbon Registry appreciates the Council’s decision based on the rigorous assessment of programmes undertaken by the TAB,” said ACR’s Deputy Director, Mary Grady. “The international aviation sector has made remarkable progress in a short amount of time on establishing a new global framework to reduce emissions and combat climate change. With this important milestone, we are ready to support implementation of CORSIA.”
Meanwhile, due to the coronavirus outbreak, ICAO has postponed its five 2020 CORSIA Regional Seminars until later in the year.