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ICAO establishes first binding CO2 standard for aircraft

9th February, 2016

The International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO’s) environment committee has agreed a CO2 standard to be applied to all new in-production commercial and business aircraft delivered from 2028, and a separate technology standard for new aircraft designs from 2020.

According to analysis by the International Council for Clean Transportation the standard will, on average, require a reduction of 4% in the cruise fuel consumption of new aircraft in 2028 compared to aircraft delivered in 2015. The analysis found that the average new single and twin aisle commercial aircraft in 2017 will already comply with the agreed standard, 10 years before it comes into force.

Members of the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA), which includes AEF, acknowledged that this represents an important milestone, the culmination of six years technical work, but many environmental organisations expressed frustration and disappointment following the momentum generated by the Paris climate agreement that the standard will be insufficient to reduce emissions significantly below ‘business as usual’ projections (especially when the evidence confirmed that it would have been technically-feasible to set a more ambitious standard). For this reason, there are calls already for ICAO’s Committee for Environmental Protection (CAEP) to review the stringency of the standard at the earliest opportunity (including from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon).

ICAO views the CO2 standard as part of a ‘basket of measures’ to reduce the sector’s carbon emissions. This includes a proposal for a market-based measure, requiring airlines to offset their emissions to collectively achieve a goal of no net increase in emissions from 2020, with a decision expected to be agreed at the ICAO Assembly this autumn. The ICAO Assembly brings together all 191 member states every three years with the last assembly in 2013 agreeing to develop a market based measure.

Image creditMa.sum via Flickr

Article updated 10/2/16