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Swiss Gold Standard greenlights methodology concept for cut in aircraft contrails


Contrails increase aviation sector's climate impact

Aircrafts to be incentivized to reduce contrails' climate impact

SATAVIA hopes methodology will be fully approved by end-2023

  • Author
  • Eklavya Gupte
  • Editor
  • Shashwat Pradhan
  • Commodity
  • Energy Transition
  • Topic
  • Road to COP28

Switzerland-based renewable energy and carbon credit certifier Gold Standard provisionally approved a methodology concept that will produce offsets by reducing the production of contrails by aircrafts.

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Contrails, which are aircraft-generated condensation trails, cause surface warming, amounting to around 60% of the aviation sector's climate impact, and around double that of direct CO2 emissions from aircrafts.

The certification body said Aug. 7 this methodology will enable the issuance of Certified Mitigation Outcome Units (CMOUs) for non-CO2 aviation emissions avoided via contrail management activity.

Non-CO2 emissions

The methodology was conceptualized by UK-based aerospace tech company SATAVIA, which is focused on reducing non-CO2 emissions for the aviation sector.

SATAVIA said it is hoping the methodology is fully approved by Gold Standard's Technical Advisory Committee by late 2023, with design certification expected to be ready by either end-2023 or early 2024.

"Our practical approach to contrail mitigation offers an incentive for aircraft operators to immediately start cutting their non-CO2 climate footprint, which we hope will drive rapid adoption across the industry", said SATAVIA CEO Adam Durant.

"With the incentive provided by Gold Standard CMOUs, aviation could reduce its non-CO2 impact by perhaps 50% before 2030."

This decision fundamentally recognizes the correspondence between contrail-generated radiative forcing and carbon dioxide equivalency (CO2e) for the calculation of aviation's non-CO2 emissions, which could pave the way for a credit-based incentive for aircraft operators implementing contrail management, Gold Standard said in a statement.

Gold Standard will also develop registry functionality to allow CMOU trading.

SATAVIA also plans to seek CMOU recognition from CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation), with the aim of bringing contrail management incentives to the widest possible market.

Platts, part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, assesses a wide range of high-quality voluntary carbon credits that fund projects that demonstrate additionality, permanence, exclusive claim and co-benefits.

The value of these credits can vary from CORSIA-eligible offsets (Platts CEC, $1.05/mtCO2e) to household device offsets ($5.90/mtCO2e) and tech carbon capture offsets ($130/mtCO2, all Aug. 7 assessments).