International compliance with carbon emissions measurements
National compliance with carbon emissions measures – or lack thereof


With the shift in priorities from short-term to long-term covid-19 measures, concerns about climate change and environmental protection have come to the fore. The need for the aviation industry to consider and implement greener measures has accelerated. Recently, members of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) declared their commitment to a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, recognizing the call to focus more on measures to protect the environment. What is important and perhaps ambitious about AAPA’s commitment is that its goal of achieving zero net carbon emissions exceeds the commitment made by most manufacturers (including the IATA) – i.e. half of carbon emissions by 2050.

Malaysia Airlines is one of five AAPA members who have pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. At this point, it should be noted that there is no legal obligation for members of s ‘engage in this goal and, certainly, no legal repercussions if the goal is not achieved. Nonetheless, the commitment is commendable.

International compliance with carbon emissions measurements

Following the resolution of the International Civil Aviation Organization for a global market-based measure to tackle carbon emissions, the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Program for International Aviation (CORSIA) was put implemented to stabilize carbon emissions. Through CORSIA, airlines will be required to monitor emissions on all international routes and offset emissions from routes included in the program by purchasing eligible emission units generated by projects that reduce emissions in other sectors.(1) or use low carbon CORSIA eligible fuels.(2) The use of palm oil-based biofuel, which Malaysia intends to use,(3) has been accepted by CORSIA.

Malaysia is participating voluntarily in the pilot phase of CORSIA, which runs from 2021 to 2023. It will therefore be subject to these measures. Since the CORSIA regime applies to international travel, Malaysian airlines operating international travel will be subject to the regime.

Malaysian airlines may soon have to contend with two developments in the EU:

  • the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS),(4) whose scope is currently limited to the European Economic Area, but could soon be extended to non-EU airlines, including those from Malaysia; and
  • upcoming modifications of the EU ETS directive to integrate the CORSIA system.(5)

It remains to be seen precisely how Malaysian airlines will be affected by these developments.

National compliance with carbon emissions measures – or lack thereof

The Malaysian legislature has yet to implement stricter green policies with regard to the civil aviation industry. Airlines or associated stakeholders have no obligation to reduce carbon emissions or take a more sustainable approach to flight operations. While it is commendable that airlines have made a proactive effort to implement greener and more sustainable measures,(6) it is worrying that there are no legal obligations – or repercussions, for that matter – for aviation players to implement greener policies.

The Malaysian Aviation Commission, the economic regulator of the Malaysian civil aviation industry, has finalized its proposed long-term strategic direction for the sector in its economic master plan, which includes fuel consumption, emission and pollution control, environmental protection and conservation, and sustainable consumption and production. However, this plan has not yet been implemented.

That being said, the Malaysian Prime Minister recently pledged Malaysia’s commitment to become a carbon neutral nation by 2050.(7) With the much anticipated Climate Change Act, it is hoped that Malaysia will be able to achieve its goals and honor its commitment to be a carbon neutral nation as soon as possible.(8)


With increased pressure to implement environmental protection measures, Malaysian airlines will need to be on the lookout for obligations, both nationally and internationally. While legislative harmonization would be preferable, aviation stakeholders should keep in mind that this may not be the case. Compliance will be difficult for the aviation industry due to the globalized nature of its business operations. The reality is that at present, there is no legally binding obligation for Malaysian aviation players to implement greener measures. However, we hope it will only be a matter of time. Jumping on the green train ahead of time will undoubtedly give businesses an attractive edge.

For more information on this topic, please contact Shannon rajan Where Sandhya Saravanan to SKRINE by phone (+603 2081 3999) or email ([email protected] Where [email protected]). The SKRINE website can be accessed at

End Notes

(1) For more information, click here.

(2) For more information, click here.

(3) For more information, click here.

(4) For more information, click here.

(5) For more information, click here.

(6) For more information, click here.

(7) For more information, click here.

(8) For more information, click here.


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