EDF Welcomes ICAO Assembly’s 2050 Goal and CORSIA decisions  

Net zero emissions by 2050 target sets international aviation on a strong path for energy transition and climate neutrality

October 5, 2022
Sommer Yesenofski, syesenofski@edf.org; +1 949-257-8768

(MONTREAL – October 7, 2022) Today, the Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations aviation agency, passed a commitment to a sustainable future for global aviation by adopting long-term goal of 2050 net-zero emissions goal for international aviation. 

“With this long-term goal, we can have hope that there’s a bright future ahead for the aviation sector: one where we can all thrive in a stable climate and travel more sustainably, all while protecting ecosystems and supporting communities,” said Mark Brownstein, Senior Vice President of Energy Transition. “But the work isn’t over. Now is the time for countries to act by establishing policies that support achievement of a 2050 net zero goal for aviation with measurable progress in the interim, and enhancing transparency and cooperation all along the way.”  

The 2050 goal has major potential to influence national aviation and climate policies, accelerate the production of and transition to Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), and encourage private investment.  

“The value of ICAO’s long-term goal is setting the pace for climate ambition and a reason for nations to start the work of collaboration that we need. Cooperation, such as through the International Aviation Climate Ambition Coalition and engagement with civil society, are critical to this effort,” said Suzi Kerr, Chief Economist at EDF. 

The Assembly also moved this week to amend the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) baseline to 85% of emissions produced in 2019 and to fix the methodology for allocating obligations among air carriers. Initially launched in 2016, CORSIA compliant airlines originally aimed to cap emissions at 2020 levels. When air traffic and related emissions plummeted due to COVID-19, industry proposals to scale back the CORSIA baseline threatened  the already insufficient ambition of CORSIA. CORSIA is also crucial for delivering monitoring, reporting and verification of international aviation emissions at the global scale and for hosting ICAO’s sustainable aviation fuel framework. 

"While ICAO missed a great opportunity to deliver greater CORSIA ambition, the 85% of 2019 levels deal averted backsliding on ambition, an outcome that would have slashed CORSIA obligations for years.  In parallel, the changes to the methodology to allocate CORSIA obligations among air carriers paves the road for broader participation in CORSIA by addressing market distortions and equity issues,” said Pedro Piris-Cabezas, Director for Sustainable International Transport and Lead Senior Economist, Climate Program. “There's much room for improvement and greater ambition for CORSIA, but this is a solid outcome that still gives us room to take a step forward." 


# # #

One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund