Governments, industry and environmental groups meeting at the United Nations specialised agency, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), have today finalised the design of the first global certification standard for CO2 emissions from new aircraft. The agreement on a rigorous and challenging ICAO “CO2 Standard”, is the result of six years’ work by a task force of experts from governments and observers and will apply to all new aircraft designs from 2020.
The Air Transport Action Group, a cross-industry organisation focusing on sustainable aviation, has welcomed the CO2 Standard as part of a wider series of actions aimed at tackling aviation’s climate change impact. Executive Director, Michael Gill, says: “Following the landmark Paris Agreement in December last year, aviation is pressing ahead with its own climate action plan. Today’s decision on the ICAO CO2 Standard provides a significant step towards the industry’s long-term goal to halve aviation CO2 and much-needed momentum ahead of the ICAO Assembly in September, at which governments are expected to agree on a global market-based measure for aviation.”
The CO2 Standard will apply to all new aircraft models launched after 2020. The standard will also be phased in for all existing aircraft types rolling off the production line from 2023, even if they were designed and launched prior to 2020. A production cut-off date of 2028 has been recommended for any aircraft that do not comply with the CO2 Standard. The standard will be reviewed periodically to increase its stringency in line with technology advancement. ICAO has a long track record of implementing similar standards in noise, safety, security and agreements on air navigation. Once the CO2 Standard is formally adopted by the ICAO Council, it will be implemented by national civil aviation authorities around the world and will be part of the rigorous certification process all new aircraft must meet before entering service.
“The CO2 Standard mandates what were previously voluntary actions by aircraft and engine manufacturers, based on the demands of their airline customers.” Gill comments, “Aviation has always had a focus on efficiency. A flight taken today will produce on average half the CO2 produced by the same flight in 1990. This has been made possible through a range of climate actions, including new technology; better operation of existing aircraft; and improvements in infrastructure.
“New technology aircraft can provide significant savings in CO2 as they enter the world airline fleet. In fact, efficiency is often the key competitive differentiator for manufacturers. They currently spend around $15 billion per year on efficiency research and development.
“Importantly, the CO2 Standard is a milestone on the road towards this year’s ICAO Assembly and the discussion to deliver a robust global offsetting scheme with which we can cap growth in CO2 emissions from aviation from 2020. This CO2 Standard places an obligation on the manufacturers and the market-based measure will do the same thing for airlines and other operators. Both steps are an integral part of the aviation sector’s plan for capping CO2 emissions from 2020 and then halving them by 2050, based on 2005 levels.
“Air transport must support the sustainable development of economies whilst also dealing with our climate change responsibility. The step taken today and the global market-based measure we hope will be agreed at the ICAO Assembly in September will enable that to happen.”