Carbon Certification Initiative Seeks Transparency For Aviation  

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GENEVA—Carbon market experts are aiming to capitalize on growing demand for transparency within the business aviation sector, launching the Carbon Offset Certification (COC) program to certify the environmental credentials of products, including aviation fuel, and services, such as flights. 

Set up in partnership with French testing and certification specialist Bureau Veritas, COC comes as scrutiny on the environmental impact of the broader aviation industry and business aviation in particular intensifies. The changing landscape, at least in Europe, was clear this week at EBACE as climate activists disrupted proceedings on the opening day of EBACE, breaking into the static display and briefly suspending traffic at Geneva Airport. 

“We saw that the market for green products, green commodities and services was going to be massive in the coming years,” Paul Sebastien, former energy and carbon trader and one of the founders, tells ShowNews.  

“There were many initiatives developed by the industry but there was still a lack of certification. We saw that at some point there would be a need for a third-party assessor to validate the credibility of the environmental claims.” 

The certification involves a third-party assessment to confirm that both greenhouse-gas calculations and voluntary carbon offsets for a given product or service have been carried out according to best practices defined in COC’s protocol, which was developed in consultation with experts.  

The initiative applies to sectors beyond aerospace, including energy and maritime, but it was interest from a business-jet operator that led to the partners exploring its potential within aviation, Sebastien says. A Dubai-based business jet owner contacted his team asking for certification that their business jet operations had been fully offset.  

The team is now talking to more business aviation companies, Sebastien says. Demand from the sector looks set to grow as environmental, social and governance (ESG) ratings form an increasingly important part of financing criteria.  

Sebastien says: “We issue a certificate that the company can issue to their own partners and clients but also their financial counter-parties. Banks start to juggle between business-as-usual financing of the industry and their own internal pressure. For companies to communicate on environmental practices is a way to access financing.”  

The certification system’s calculations are made according to recognized carbon accounting standards and are independently verified. Mitigation comes through the retirement of Corsia-compliant carbon credits from a recognized issuer, with near-vintage years criteria and proof of retirement.  

COC should be a guard against greenwashing claims, too, which are being increasingly directed at the industry.

“It’s important that companies make the most of each solution, but what they communicate now will be scrutinized in one, two, three years from now and we see the public is gaining in knowledge and scrutiny,” Sebastien says.

Helen Massy-Beresford

Based in Paris, Helen Massy-Beresford covers European and Middle Eastern airlines, the European Commission’s air transport policy and the air cargo industry for Aviation Week & Space Technology and Aviation Daily.