UN moves to end rift on aviation carbon emissions

UN moves to end rift on aviation carbon emissions

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Europe and the United States have tried to bridge differences over emissions standards for aircraft as global aviation leaders prepared to adopt new rules that could affect production of the largest jetliners and freighters.

Proposals being debated in Montreal by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations’ aviation agency, would force makers of the world’s largest passenger jets, Boeing and Airbus, to upgrade or stop producing certain models as early as 2023.

airliners-airport-taxiThat’s according to sources close to the negotiations and documents seen by Reuters Newsagency.

US and European negotiators were trying to come up with the world’s first carbon dioxide emissions standards for aircraft as part of the industry’s contribution to efforts to combat climate change.

Aviation was not included in the global climate deal agreed by a United Nations sponsored climate summit in Paris in December.

However, ICAO is trying to nail down the first of its two-part strategy, possibly today, after six years of talks.

airliners-traffic-queue-airportIt is due to finalise a market-based mechanism for all airlines later this year.

Differences remain on where to place the bar on efficiency, with the US and Canada pushing for more stringent targets than the European Union, while environmental groups have accused Europe of dragging its feet.

“The CO2 standard will push industry to be as fuel-efficient as possible in all market conditions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the impact of aviation on climate change,” stated the Canadian paper presented at ICAO.

singapore-airbus-a380The proposals could revive pressure on European plane-maker Airbus to upgrade the world’s largest passenger jet, the A380 superjumbo, with new engines.

Reuters reports Airbus recently examined that proposal to boost sales, but it has dropped down its list of priorities.

It could also spell the end for Boeing’s struggling 747-8 passenger jet and freighter and force the US plane-maker to upgrade at least one of its two smaller freighters.

Airbus and Boeing declined to comment on negotiations.

airliner -takeoffThe Montreal talks, which run until February 12, are designed to set ambitious rules for new types of aircraft in the future.

Reuters reports a less stringent standard would apply to aircraft already in production, but this has led to the fiercest arguments since some of these planes would need to have costly improvements.

The fuel efficiency standards would apply to smaller business and regional jets, along with larger commercial planes weighing at least 60 tonnes that account for the majority of aviation sector emissions, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Qantas-airliners-in-windowsThe rules for in-production aircraft would come into effect by 2023, but could also be phased in over a five-year period until 2028, one source said.

The tougher standard for new designs could go into effect by 2020.

Participants have been weighing 10 different options for new targets, with one being the weakest and 10 requiring the greatest reduction in emissions, the documents seen by Reuters showed.

European representatives have said they will not back a standard higher than six on large planes in production.

airliner-taxi-USThe United States and Canada had initially backed options eight and nine but said they would not budge below a seven, and at one stage did not rule out breaking off talks, the sources said.

Tougher standards have higher cost implications for plane-makers.

While Airbus and Boeing have already planned more fuel-efficient upgrades to most of their programs, including the popular A320 and B737, some jets would have to be upgraded or cease being produced by as early as 2023.

airliner-lands-Sydney-amidst-haze“They’re not content,” one delegate said of the companies.

Environmental groups said the standard will boost efficiency, but it will only make a small dent on the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions, which are projected to triple or quadruple from current levels by 2040.

They said the standard needed to be accompanied by a strong global market-based approach.

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