ICAO CO2 emission standards closer to adoption

IATAThis week in Montreal, 170 international experts on the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) unanimously recommended new environmental standards on CO2 emissions produced by aircraft. The standard has taken six years of negotiation and technical work to come together.

If adopted by ICAO’s 36-state governing council, the new standard would not only be applicable to new aircraft type designs as of 2020, but also to new deliveries of current, in-production aircraft types from 2023. A cut-off date of 2028 for production of aircraft that do not comply with the standard was also recommended.

The standard is to come into full force in 2020, and ensure that CO2 emissions from new aircraft meet a minimum baseline, defined as a maximum fuel burn per flight kilometer, which must not be exceeded. In its current form, the new measures acknowledge that CO2 reductions can come from a variety of technology, whether structural, aerodynamic or propulsion-based.

The agreement on the new baseline standard was endorsed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which considered it a “vital and very welcome development.” Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, said the CO2 Standard “does not solve aviation’s climate challenge on its own, but it is an important element in our comprehensive strategy for tackling carbon emissions.”

IATA’s stated industry goals are for carbon-neutral growth from 2020, and for a 50 percent cut in CO2 emissions by 2050. “This CO2 standard is a significant milestone towards those targets, and proves that the industry and the world’s governments are working together to find a sustainable future for aviation,” Tyler said. “The next milestone will be the implementation of a market-based measure to address CO2 emissions, which we hope to see agreed at the ICAO Assembly in September.”

Aircraft weighing more than 60-tonnes account for more than 90 percent of international aviation emissions. Oddly enough, these aircraft type have access to the broadest range of emission reduction technologies. Great care was taken to be sure the standard covers the full range of sizes and aircraft used in international aviation.

“The goal of this process is ultimately to ensure that when the next generation of aircraft types enter service, there will be guaranteed reductions in international CO2 emissions,” said Olumuyiwa Benard, president of the ICAO council. “Our sector presently accounts for under two percent of the world’s annual CO2 emissions, but we also recognize that the projected doubling of global passengers and flights by 2030 must be managed responsibly and sustainably.”


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