A UN panel has proposed greenhouse gas emissions standards for airliners and cargo planes beginning in 2020 for new aircraft designs and three years later for designs already in production.
The International Civil Aviation Organization said the agreement reached by 170 international experts sets a cutoff date of 2028 for the manufacture of planes that don’t comply with the standards.
The standard must still be adopted by the agency’s 36-nation governing council.
Environmental groups quickly condemned the new standards, which they said were not stringent enough to meaningfully reduce pollution or slow climate change.
“These dangerously weak recommendations put the Obama administration under enormous pressure to take US action against airplane pollution,” Vera Pardee said, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney who has sued the US government over aviation emissions.
Last June, the Obama administration proposed regulating aircraft emissions, saying they are a threat to human health because they contain pollutants that help cause global warming.
But a final US decision on adoption of international standards is likely to be left to the next presidential administration. EPA officials said at the time that the earliest the agency is likely to propose adoption of ICAO standards would be in 2017.
Aviation accounts for about five per cent of global greenhouse emissions, according to environmentalists. ICAO says it’s actually less than two per cent.
But that share is expected to grow as aviation grows. “We also recognise that the projected doubling of global passengers and flights by 2030 must be managed responsibly and sustainably,” said Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, president of the ICAO council.
The action comes two months after UN climate negotiators in Paris left the aviation industry out of their landmark global agreement to combat global warming.
The proposed standard covers the full range of sizes and types of aircraft used in international aviation today, but reserves the strictest standards for planes weighing over 60 tons, ICAO said.
The larger planes are responsible for about 90 per cent of international aviation emissions.
“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 carbon dioxide emissions,” Aliu said.