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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.