UN agency’s new efficiency standard takes first step on aircraft carbon emissions

Spotlight in ICAO now shifts to global market-based measure to cap and cut aviation climate pollution; statement from EDF's Annie Petsonk

February 8, 2016
Jennifer Andreassen, +1-202-572-3387, jandreassen@edf.org
Annie Petsonk, +1-202-365-3237, apetsonk@edf.org

In Montreal today, a technical group at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) agreed on a proposed CO2 emissions standard for aircraft. Similar to a miles-per-gallon standard for cars, the standard will require aircraft manufacturers to start producing more efficient airplanes. The standard is expected to be adopted at the ICAO Council meeting this spring.

“The standard appears to be ambitious as it applies to new types of large aircraft. Having more efficient aircraft take to the sky can help airlines begin to slow aviation’s skyrocketing climate pollution. That’s a positive step, and ICAO and the Obama Administration are to be commended for it.

“The standard’s application to aircraft already being manufactured, however, is less ambitious. The technical committee has called for a review, to be concluded by 2019, which could be an opportunity to increase the ambition of the standard as it applies to these aircraft. In the meantime, industry should aim to improve the efficiency of aircraft coming off production lines – starting now.

“The recommended CO2 standard is only one part of a set of agreements under negotiation in ICAO. Less than two months after countries reached a landmark climate deal in Paris, the standard takes a useful first step. As the spotlight shifts, we look to the Obama Administration to lead the drive to get agreement on the real prize this fall: a market-based measure to cap aviation emissions and drive pollution down, not up.”

  • Annie Petsonk, International Counsel, Environmental Defense Fund

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