ICAO proposal to slightly reduce CO2 emissions from new planes, only after 2023, not seen as sufficiently ambitious
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations’ aviation agency, has approved the first-ever binding agreement to achieve CO2 emissions reductions from new aircraft. New efficiency standards will apply to all new commercial jets delivered after 2028, as well as existing jets produced from 2023. This might achieve a cut in CO2 of about 4% in cruise fuel consumption, compared to the level in 2015. This is a very low level of ambition. Environmental groups, specifically the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) said the proposed standards were a missed opportunity and would have little real effect in curbing emissions. The standard excludes aircraft that are already in use, and as most airlines have lifetimes of 20-30 years, it will take decades to cover the current fleet. ICCT says some of the top performing commercial aircraft were already achieving the standard – with room to spare. By 2020, 8 years before the proposed standards were even due to come into effect, the average aircraft would already be 10% more efficient than the ICAO standard. ICAO recognised that “the projected doubling of global passengers and flights by 2030 must be managed responsibly and sustainably.” However, this does very little to achieve that. The exclusion high CO2 emitting international aviation and shipping was a major weakness of the Paris Agreement in December.
Global initiative introduces first proposal to reduce airplane pollution
International Civil Aviation Organisation plan of 4% fuel reduction of new aircraft starting in 2028 not enough to halt emissions, environmental groups say
by Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington (Guardian)
Governments proposed for the first time on Monday to reduce climate pollution from airplanes, plugging one of the biggest loopholes in last December’s landmark Paris agreement.
The global initiative was a first attempt to halt carbon emissions from air travel – one of the fastest growing sources of climate pollution.
In a call with reporters, White House officials described the standards as “a huge deal”, noting that the aviation authority has also proposed an aspirational goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020.
But campaign groups, specifically the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), said the proposed standards were a missed opportunity and would have little real effect in curbing emissions.
The standards proposed at an expert meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao) in Montreal would apply to all new commercial and business aircraft delivered after 1 January 2028.
But they exclude aircraft that are already in use, and as most airlines have lifetimes of 20-30 years, it will take decades to cover the current fleet.
In addition, the standards would on average require only a 4% reduction in the cruise fuel consumption of new aircraft, compared to 2015.
The proposals will be put to countries for formal adoption next year.
Icao said the standard was aimed at larger aircraft, which were responsible for the vast majority of global 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 CO2 emissions,” Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, president of the Icao council said.
“We also recognize that the projected doubling of global passengers and flights by 2030 must be managed responsibly and sustainably.”
The exclusion of high-polluting industries such as international aviation and shipping was seen as a major weakness of the historic agreement reached last December.
Currently, air travel and shipping together account for about 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but are projected to account for about 30% by 2050. But emerging economies had balked at the idea of including shipping and aviation in the Paris agreement, and so negotiators left them out of the deal.
White House officials said they were satisfied with the proposed standard – given the range of countries’ positions. The European Union and some emerging economics had been reluctant to take stronger action. “This is a really a strong result,” the officials said. “It’s the first ever CO2 standards for aircraft covering existing aircraft.”
But campaign groups suggested the Icao recommendations would do very little to rein in emissions – and in some cases lagged behind technology that was already in use.
According to an analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation, (ICCT) some of the top performing commercial aircraft were already achieving the standard – with room to spare. By 2020, eight years before the proposed standards were even due to come into effect, the average aircraft would already be 10% more efficient than the Icao standard.
“Given the substantial lead time for the standards, along with anticipated fuel efficiency gains for new aircraft types already in development by manufacturers, the standards will serve primarily to prevent backsliding in emissions,” ICCT said in a statement. “Additional action would be required for the standard to reduce emissions below business as usual.”
Vera Pardee, an attorney for the Centre for Biological Diversity, said the proposed standard put an additional burden on the Obama administration to make good on earlier promises to cut aviation emissions.
The Environmental Protection Agency had been waiting for Icao to bring in its standards before moving to cut emissions from the domestic airline industry.
However, the White House would not say whether the EPA would propose those new domestic standards before Barack Obama leaves the White House.
A Hollow Agreement on Aviation Emissions
By JAD MOUAWAD (New York Times)
If the global goals laid out at the recent Paris climate conference are to be met, curbing aviation emissions is critical. But don’t expect last week’s agreement to set the first standards for airplanes to make a big dent. In fact, it will do little to reduce the rise in emissions from airlines, the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations’ aviation agency, approved the first-ever binding agreement to cover emissions for aircraft. New efficiency standards will apply to all new commercial jets delivered after 2028, as well as existing jets produced from 2023.
The rub is that the long-awaited standard is lower than what the industry is on track to achieve anyway in the next decade.
As it stands, the most advanced jets being built by Boeing and Airbus (such as the twin-aisle B787s and A350s, or the newest versions of the narrow-body B737s and A320s) already meet or exceed this new efficiency goal.
About two decades after aviation started talking about limiting carbon emissions, and after six years of negotiations, the result is lower than “business as usual.”
All this matters given the size of aviation and the industry’s growth, with airlines projected to add 50,000 new large planes to meet rising demand for air travel around the world by the middle of the century.
While carbon-intensive industries like automobiles or power plants are being forced into significant emissions cuts over the next decades, the aviation deal appears to give air travel a pass.
There’s a fair bit of secrecy surrounding the civil aviation group’s process, and the Montreal-based organization won’t disclose details about the new standards until a formal vote scheduled in the fall.
This kind of secrecy as well as the reliance on standards crafted by the industry means questions and finger-pointing.
“Everything this week has been political,” said Bill Hemmings, the director of aviation and shipping at Transport & Environment, a Brussels-based environmental group, speaking last week about the negotiations. “It has been horse-trading of a massive nature, done in secret, all behind completely closed doors.”
The White House, which is eager to emphasize American leadership in fighting climate change, has put a positive spin on the deal.
Even those with the most to lose — the manufacturers and airlines — heaped praise on the agreement, which they said comes in addition to voluntary measures they have taken to increase fuel efficiency.
Airplane makers point out that they hardly need incentives to develop more efficient planes and not gas-guzzlers. Airlines have been pressing for planes that deliver savings on fuel — and therefore on emissions — for years.
Julie Felgar, a senior Boeing manager dealing with environmental issues, said Boeing had made a 70% reduction in fuel use since the dawn of the jet age, as well as a 90% reduction in noise. “And we don’t see that technology curve slowing down,” she said.
Both Boeing and Airbus, for example, have developed new versions of their best-selling single-aisle planes with the latest generation of efficient jet engines, which they say are 20 to 25% more efficient than earlier generations.
Both are also betting on a new generation of airplanes with lighter airframes that can also improve fuel economy — and emissions — by about 20 percent. Boeing has more than 1,100 787 Dreamliners on order and already delivered about 370 aircraft around the world. Airbus has so far delivered 15 of the more than 770 A350s it has on order.
But there is also some skepticism that airplane makers can keep churning out new and revolutionary designs. Because they were stung by the high cost and technical problems encountered while developing the 787, the opposite may be true.
Boeing’s chairman said two years ago that the company would seek to avoid more “moon shots” — by which he meant leapfrogging technologies — and would focus instead on producing planes more efficiently and more cheaply.
Many participants said the International Civil Aviation Organization could raise its standard in the future. But so far, aviation has contributed little to the effort to tackle climate change. As the Center for Biological Diversity said in a report, “That failure undermines global climate efforts and is neither fair nor justifiable.”
Countries Embrace New Rules to Limit Airline Emissions
February 9th, 2016
The United States and 22 other countries on Monday struck a first-ever international agreement to cut carbon emissions from commercial airplanes as a way to reduce their impact on climate change.
The agreement, announced by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO, calls for a 4 percent reduction in fuel consumption from new commercial aircraft built after 2028 and from aircraft currently in production delivered after 2023.
The standards aim to cut carbon emissions from airplanes by more than 650 million tons between 2020 and 2040, roughly the same as the emissions from 140 million cars, according to a White House statement.
The ICAO is withholding specific details of the standards — including the ways in which airplanes will be required to emit less carbon — until its 36-state governing council can officially adopt the rules late this week or next, ICAO spokesman Anthony Philbin said.
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Commercial airplanes are major emitters of the carbon dioxide contributing to climate change, accounting for 11% of all emissions from the global transportation sector. Those emissions are expected to grow by about 50% by mid-century as the demand for air travel increases worldwide.
The new standards are even more important as climate change warms the atmosphere, forcing aircraft to deal with more violent turbulence and increasing flight times and weight restrictions.
A Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution study published last year shows that climate change will increase wind speeds in some areas of the globe. That could lead to airplanes burning more fuel as they fly into winds. Total global carbon dioxide emissions could increase by 0.03 percent as round-trip flight times across the globe increase, according to the study.
To deal with those conditions, fuel efficient aircraft will be needed. Already, new efficient aircraft types are being built and developed — variants of Boeing’s 787 and the Airbus A350, for example — and they’re likely to meet or exceed the emissions standards proposed this week.
“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 CO2 emissions,” ICAO Council President Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu said in a statement. ”The projected doubling of global passengers and flights by 2030 must be managed responsibly and sustainably.”
White House officials said in a statement that the standards are part of a comprehensive approach to reducing aviation emissions through new technology and alternative fuels.
Reaction to the international agreement was mixed on Tuesday. Airlines For America, an aviation industry trade group, called the new standards ambitious.
“They will further support our global aviation coalition’s emissions goals to achieve 1.5 percent annual average fuel efficiency improvements through 2020 and carbon neutral growth from 2020,” Nancy Young, Airlines For America’s vice president of environmental affairs, said.
Environmental groups were blunt with their criticism.
“These standards set the bar embarrassingly low, ensuring that almost all aircraft will already meet the requirements well before they go into effect in 2023,” said Sarah Burt, an Earthjustice legal expert on aircraft pollution. “The aviation industry is sandbagging, which seriously hinders our efforts to meet the commitments we made in Paris.”
Dan Rutherford, director of marine and aviation at the International Council on Clean Transportation, said the new standards amount to only incremental emissions reductions through 2028.
Although they are likely to promote the development of more fuel efficient aircraft in the coming years, they’re a missed opportunity because new airplanes already in development exceed the fuel efficiency standards announced this week, he said.
Boeing, Airbus and other airplane manufacturers began developing new fuel efficient airplanes a decade ago that are just being delivered to airlines. But with oil prices lower than they’ve been in more than a decade, the new standards may help ensure that the airlines and airplane builders will continue to focus on fuel efficient aircraft, Rutherford said.
ICAO trying to negotiate standards for fuel efficiency requirements for new and future planes
Talks are going on – till 12th February – in Montreal at ICAO, on global fuel efficiency standards for aircraft. The proposals would mean makers of the world’s largest passenger jets would be forced to upgrade models currently in production, or stop producing certain models as early as 2023 (or maybe 2028). Planes currently flying are not included. Big improvements in aircraft CO2 emissions are needed, as the sector was left out of the Paris agreement. The sector intends to continue growing fast – with emissions rising much faster than any feasible fuel efficiencies. As well as the fuel efficiency of planes, ICAO is meant to be (after 6 years) finalising a “market-based mechanism” for all airlines later this year – as a two-part strategy. There are differences between countries on how tight the fuel efficiency standard should be, on a scale of 1 – 10 (10 being the best). The US and Canada are pushing for more stringent targets than the EU. Environmental groups say the EU is dragging its feet. Airbus may have to change the engines on the A380, and the Boeing 747-8 may no longer be produced. Aircraft makers are not keen on having to make costly improvements to planes now in production. The tougher standard for new designs could go into effect by 2020.