Only three of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) nations have signed up for the voluntary CORSIA global aviation carbon offsetting scheme that begins in 2020, although IATA says there is no particular reason why they are holding off.

The CORSIA scheme was agreed through ICAO in 2016. As part of that, all airlines must begin reporting their emissions from Jan. 1, 2019. In addition, a voluntary phase starts in 2020 in which airlines of those countries that participate in that phase will begin paying their carbon offsets via the global scheme. About 75 governments, accounting for some 76% of global commercial aviation activity, have committed to this voluntary start.

However, only three MENA governments—the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar—have committed to the voluntary part of the scheme, IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac noted in a speech Nov. 6 at the Arab Air Carriers’ Association (AACO) AGM in Cairo.

“We want more governments to sign up to the program from the voluntary period beginning in 2020,” de Juniac said, congratulating Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar for their leadership.

“I ask the other governments in the region to join them. We will continue to work closely with AACO to remind governments of the benefits of CORSIA and to support airlines in their preparation plans.”

At a press conference later that day, de Juniac said there was no single reason why more MENA nations had not committed. IATA Africa and Middle East regional VP Muhammad Ali Albakri said some states “package” their treaties, so ratification procedures can take longer, but he agreed there was no specific hurdle.

In a positive development, de Juniac, when asked about US commitment to CORSIA, said he was confident of America’s participation. CORSIA was signed in October 2016, during the last months of the Obama administration, and the US was among the first adopters of the voluntary phase. Statements by the succeeding Trump administration on climate change and the Paris Treaty raised questions about the US’ continuing commitment to CORSIA.

But de Juniac said Tuesday that IATA has not seen anything negative on US participation.

Karen Walker