IATA's new director general is optimistic that an agreement on a carbon offset scheme can be struck when ICAO meets later this month, and said that if the proposed six-year pilot period is the condition for success, he has no issues with the "good compromise".

“The key priority is for a decision to be made and the system to be adopted by countries. If it takes longer to be implemented effectively, frankly it’s a secondary issue,” says Alexandre de Juniac at a media roundtable in Singapore.

He adds that while the initial plan was to have a system in place by 2020, he accepts that some states may need more time and that the pilot phase would also test and correct measures to ensure that they are “applicable, efficient and work properly”.

“So we welcome this period of experimentation, even if it takes more time than planned. If it’s the condition for this decision to be made and the system efficiently implemented, it’s a good compromise.”

A draft negotiating text for the proposed carbon offset and reduction scheme for international aviation (CORSIA) was published on 2 September. IATA noted that the text defines a voluntary “pilot and implementation” period from 2021 to 2026, after which participation would be mandatory for all eligible states. De Juniac had then said that the industry would have preferred "a more ambitious" timeline.

The chief executive points out however that the US, China and 44 European countries have already volunteered to participate, so there is “tremendous momentum” behind the project.

While he expects a few weeks of “difficult negotiations” among states, he remains optimistic that an agreement, which would be a historic achievement, will be made.

“It would be a very very bad signal [if no agreement is made] for the credibility of the industry. It shows that when we make a commitment, we’re not able to stick to it, which for aviation is something unthinkable,” says de Juniac.

He adds that IATA is also “well placed” to play a key role in the scheme, being a neutral organisation and already having data on member airlines’ carbon emissions.

Source: Cirium Dashboard