Finalizing and formally adopting regulations later in June for the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of emissions for the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) is critical to keep the ICAO program on track to start on time, according to the head of the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG).

Michael Gill, ATAG’s executive director and IATA’s aviation environment director, told reporters at the IATA AGM in Sydney June 5 that further political negotiations at ICAO could delay the adoption of MRV standards and jeopardize CORSIA’s 2021 start.

While CORSIA’s 2021-2026 voluntary stage, for which 73 nations representing 88% of the world’s international air traffic have signed up, is still more than two years away, airlines are required to start tracking and reporting CO2 emissions from Jan. 1, 2019.

“It is absolutely crucial that [ICAO makes the MRV] information available to airlines in advance so that [airlines] can prepare for implementation,” Gill said, adding that the MRV requirements need to be “clear and simple to implement.”

“The time table is extremely short,” Gill added. “It is really crucial the [ICAO] council adopt the standards without further delay. I believe any more political negotiation could [threaten the timing of CORSIA’s start] and the credibility of what we’re trying to do.”

Gill told ATW that a “very detailed set of rules have been developed over the last 18 months that have really been through very detailed technical analysis by experts.

“What has been put forward on MRV is fit. If adopted by the [ICAO] council, it will allow airlines to begin to prepare for the Jan. 1, 2019 deadline.”

One point of contention is how the data airlines submit to governments will be used.

“IATA’s position in the discussions has been consistent: data submitted by airlines should only be disclosed to the extent that this is necessary for the administration of CORSIA and commercially sensitive information must be kept confidential,” Gill said.

He reiterated that it was important to get the MRV standards to participating country’s governments soon because some of them are not experienced with complicated regulatory systems.

“It’s clear that there is a wide divergence of experience among the world’s governments in implementing this kind of scheme,” he said.

Regarding US participation in CORSIA, which is seen as vital to the program having any real impact, Gill said CORSIA is “entirely distinct” from the Paris climate agreement that US President Donald Trump wants to exit.

“We’ve had no indication whatsoever that [the US] position on CORSIA has changed,” Gill said. “Our hope and belief is the US will continue to display leadership in the ongoing discussions at ICAO. US airlines have reiterated their commitment to CORSIA.”

Aaron Karp/Aviation Daily, aaron.karp@informa.com