On 6 October 2016, at the conclusion of the 39th ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) Assembly, stakeholders found an agreement on the adoption of a Global Market-Based Measure (GMBM) to reduce international aviation CO2 emissions. This result was reached thanks to the important role of the European Union and its Member States that will join the project from its start in 2021. The GMBM will oblige airlines to offset the growth of their CO2 emissions post-2020, by buying “emission units” generated by projects reducing CO2 emissions in other sectors of the economy (e.g. renewable energies). In its first phase, from 2021 to 2026, 65 countries will participate on a voluntary basis whereas, in its second phase from 2027 to 2035, participation will be mandatory, except for countries with small aviation activities.

The implementation of the GMBM scheme from 2021 to 2035 should offset around 80% of the emissions above 2020 levels.

While ICAO will develop all the remaining elements and implementation tools to allow the GMBM to become operational in 2021, participating States are expected to take all necessary steps to develop relevant implementing measures at domestic level. The European Commission will now report back to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU on the outcome of the ICAO Assembly. In that light, and if appropriate, the Commission should also make a proposal to review the scope of the European Union Emissions Trading System.