Global Market-Based Measure


Market-based measures are increasingly recognized as an effective way to reduce aviation emissions, with emissions trading systems (ETSs) in place for domestic aviation in South Korea, New Zealand, flights within the EU, and potentially China’s domestic market from 2018. After much delay, ICAO in 2013 agreed to develop a global market-based measure (GMBM) for international aviation emissions. The goal is for this measure to be finalized at ICAO’s October 2016 Assembly, and as a first step, cap international aviation’s net emissions at 2020 levels.


Approval of this GMBM would be a historic step in addressing emissions from international aviation – the first global sector-wide net cap on the emissions of an entire industry. ICSA is working closely to ensure the GMBM has the highest possible environmental integrity and is a starting point for more ambitious climate measures.


To maintain its environmental integrity, the GMBM must have strict rules to ensure that emissions units purchased are credible, are the result of real emission reductions, and are only counted once in the global effort to mitigate climate change. Offset credits from questionable sources such as HFC-23, adipic acid, carbon capture and storage, large hydro, nuclear, and fossil fuel projects should be excluded.




The GMBM must include a review process to strengthen its ambition over time, with the goal of reducing emissions in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. Only tackling the emissions growth above 2020 levels is insufficient for the world to achieve the Paris Agreement’s target of limiting temperature increase to 1.5ºC.


ICSA’s Checklist outlines what a measure with a high degree of environmental integrity must contain.


ICSA’s Checklist

A Checklist for an Effective Plan to Cut Aviation Global Warming Pollution


Aviation is a top-ten emitter of global warming pollution. Its pollution is forecast to triple by 2050.


Nations agreed in Paris in December 2015 to cut carbon pollution within their borders and hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit that increase to 1.5 °CBut, the Paris Agreement didn’t decide what to do about the pollution spewed out of airplanes flying between different countries.


Separately, the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), based in Montreal, has spent 19 years wrangling over who should be responsible for cutting this airplane pollution. ICAO now has a deadline of 7 October 2016 to finalize a program to cap and cut the carbon pollution of all international flights.


The success in Paris puts the spotlight squarely on ICAO: Will the world have an on-time departure for an effective plan to cap and cut this fast-growing source of global warming pollution?


ICSA works to reduce pollution from air travel. A network of nonprofit organizations representing millions of members, ICSA is the only environmental civil society group accredited to ICAO. ICSA will be checking to see that on 7 October 2016, ICAO and its Member States adopt an agreement that:


  • Caps emissions and invites greater ambition. The agreement should initially cap the net total carbon emissions of international civil aviation at 2020 levels. It should commit to hold regular reviews to set a path not only to help industry ratchet emissions down to the aviation industry’s stated goal of a 50% emissions cut based on 2005 levels, but also to strengthen the cap beyond that in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and promote important in-sector emissions reductions.


  • Maintains the integrity of the emissions cap. Those covered by the cap should make up for any exemptions granted to others. No cap-busting price ceilings should be allowed. Emissions reductions must not be “double counted” towards other obligations – the environmental goal must remain.


  • Delivers sound, transparent accounting and governance via simple, accurate flight-by-flight emissions monitoring, reporting, and verification, with reasonable safeguards for commercial confidentiality; clear compliance requirements enforceable under existing regulatory authorities; broad geographic availability of emissions units; simple registry and tracking of transactions; and tough standards to prevent conflicts of interest.


  • Differentiates responsibilities among varied airlines and destinations, using a simple approach: regional routes with already-heavy carbon pollution should shoulder greater initial responsibility; obligations of small, fast-growing regional routes should increase as their pollution grows; and responsibilities should be updated regularly.


  • Credits only biofuels that cut emissions beyond set thresholds, measured on a net lifecycle emissions basis, and only if the fuels meet environmental, socials and economic sustainability criteria, including low indirect land use change.


  • Authorizes only high-quality emissions units. Airlines should only be allowed to use emissions credits and allowances from other sectors to offset their own emissions if they deliver real, additional, verifiable, permanent emissions reductions, and support sustainable development. Credits coming from environmentally questionable sources such as HFC-23, adipic acid, carbon capture and storage, large hydro, nuclear, and fossil fuel projects should be excluded.


  • Invites additional action. Welcomes more ambitious policies to cut aviation pollution including through additional operational measures and rapid deployment of the lowest greenhouse gas emitting technologies.


  • Builds capacity for developing countries to implement and enforce the plan.