UN agrees first carbon emission standards for aviation industry

UN agrees first carbon emission standards for aviation industry


In a significant move, global aviation experts have agreed to the world’s first carbon dioxide emissions standards for new and existing aircraft programs.

However, the agreement has immediately been criticised by environmental groups, which said it does not go far enough.

airliners-airport-taxiThe new standards, aimed at makers of small and large planes alike, will apply to all new aircraft models launched after 2020, the Montreal-based United Nations aviation agency said.

Reuters Newsagency reports they will also be phased in for existing aircraft programs being built from 2023, with a cut-off date of 2028 for planes that do not comply with the new standard.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) governing council must still approve the standards, agreed to after six years of talks.

The standards would become mandatory for national aviation authorities around the world.

airliners-traffic-queue-airportThe new standards would reduce as much as 650 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions between 2020 and 2040, according to United States estimates.

However, environmental group Transport and Environment estimated reductions closer to 300 million tonnes over the same period.

“The proposal will only require CO2 reductions from new aircraft of four per cent over 12 years, when market forces alone are predicted to achieve more than a 10 per cent efficiency gain in the same time frame,” Drew Kodjak, executive director of the International Council on Clean Transportation, said in a statement.

airliner -takeoffThe new standards would not apply to existing aircraft in service.

To meet the proposed standards, manufacturers will need to make lighter planes with more fuel-efficient engines.

Some plane-makers are already planning to make changes.

“It will influence the R&D budgets at the plane and engine makers that already are focused on fuel burn and make sure that remains a continued emphasis,” said one industry expert.

Bill-Hemmings-aviation-program-manager-NGO-Transport-and-EnvironmentTechnical documents presented during the talks and seen by Reuters suggested the new rules could affect Boeing and Airbus Group production of the largest jetliners and freighters, including the 747, 767 freighter and Airbus A380 jumbo-jet.

“This outcome was the minimum needed from ICAO for a credible first start,” said Bill Hemmings, aviation director for the Brussels-based Transport and Environment.

Planes weighing 60 tonnes or more, which include commercial passenger jets, generate the majority of carbon dioxide emissions from the aviation sector.

UN-logo-Paris-climate-summitNegotiators from 22 countries have been 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 reached at a United Nations sponsored summit in Paris in December, but ICAO had been trying to nail down the standard as the first of a two-part strategy after six years of talks.

It is due to finalise a market-based mechanism for all airlines later this year.