Emissions

  • May 19, 2017

Global aviation emissions count for approximately 2% of CO2 and 3% of GHG emissions, as per IPCC estimates. In line with ICAO long-term aspirational goals, the aviation industry is committed to meet 2% per annum fuel efficiency improvement and carbon neutral growth from 2020 through a combination of measures related to improved technology, more efficient operations, infrastructure improvements and a global market-based measure to fill the remaining emissions gap. In the last fifty years aviation fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions have improved by more than 70% through the introduction of new technologies and operational improvements.

With regard to technology, the current standards for emissions of civil aircraft engines are agreed globally by ICAO and are contained in Annex 16, Volume II to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation. These recommended standards are implemented through national and/or regional certification authorities, such as the European Aviation Agency (EASA) in Europe. In 2016 a first-ever CO2 emissions standard for aircraft was developed by the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) within ICAO, to be formally adopted by the ICAO Council in 2017 (Annex 16, Volume III to the Chicago Convention). The new standard will apply to new type design aircraft in 2020 and includes a production cut-off for aircraft that do not meet the standard by 2028.

With regard to a global market-based measure, in October 2016 the ICAO Assembly adopted a carbon offsetting scheme to complement a broader basket of measures to achieve the goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020 onwards. The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) is the first global scheme covering an entire industrial sector. The scheme is set to commence with a voluntary period from 2021 after which it will become mandatory. CORSIA calls for aviation to offset its emissions by requiring aircraft operators to purchase offsets or ‘emission units’ from crediting mechanisms or emissions trading schemes.

Within the EU, aviation emissions from intra-EU flights are currently included in the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS). The EU ETS is a cornerstone of the EU’s policy to combat climate change, aiming at reducing greenhouse gas emissions cost-effectively through a cap-and-trade system. The total amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted by factories, power plants and other installations in the system is ‘capped’ by a limit that is gradually reduced so that total emissions will drop. Participants receive a certain number of CO2 allowances based on sectoral benchmarks that can be traded: they can be sold in case of a surplus or additional allowances can be bought when needed. Aviation emissions from intra-EU flights have been included in the system since 2012. The inclusion of aviation emissions into the EU ETS will be revised with the implementation of the global CORSIA scheme.

The working body in charge of this issue is the Environment Commission.

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