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ICAO carbon offset scheme falters; airline biofuel use grows

On 27-Aug-2018 the Indian LCC SpiceJet became the country's first airline to operate a flight using biofuel. Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) were first used by an airline in Feb-2008, when Virgin Atlantic flew a Boeing 747 on a test flight from London to Amsterdam.

Since then, a number of other airlines have conducted test flights demonstrating that a variety of source products, including algae, jatropha plants and municipal waste, can be converted into aviation fuel. IATA hopes that one million flights will use biofuels in 2020.

ICAO's Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme in International Aviation (CORSIA) will begin its pilot phase in 2021, but emissions reporting by airlines will start in Jan-2019. Monitoring, reporting and verification provisions have been agreed for CORSIA, but rules on the use of biofuels and credits to offset aviation emissions are not yet complete.

In its efforts to reconcile competing interests, CORSIA has stirred some controversy, attracting criticism on environmental grounds. Moreover, China is no longer on the list of voluntary participants and Russia has expressed doubts over the scheme.

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