Montréal, 15 February 2019
Global measures to address aviation’s environmental impact were agreed at a meeting of the two hundred and fifty experts of ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP), which concluded today.
The meeting was opened by Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, President of the Council of ICAO, recognizing that “In the 35 years since the CAEP was established, the scope of work and the technical areas which it covers have widened. Yet, despite the monumental challenges set before it, the CAEP remains a tremendous example of international cooperation.”
The main outcomes of the meeting are as follows:
Aircraft Engine Standard
A new stringency level that would limit the emissions of non-volatile Particulate Matter (nvPM) from aircraft engines was agreed. The ICAO standard is expected to drive technologies to address non-volatile particulate matter, which in the long run will minimize their potential environmental and health impacts.
With this new standard, ICAO has completed all main environmental standards for the certification of aircraft and engines, namely for noise, local air quality (NOx, HC, CO, nvPM) and climate change (CO2), making the aviation industry the only sector with environmental mandatory certification requirements at the global level for the operation of its equipment. Once applicable, all new aircraft will need to be certified to those ICAO standards before operating.
The meeting also delivered new technology goals for the sector, including improvements of aircraft noise up to 15.5 dB below Chapter 14 limits for single-aisle aircraft by 2027, NOx emission by 54 per cent relative to the latest ICAO NOx SARPs and fuel efficiency up to 1.3 per cent per annum can be expected for the new aircraft entering into production.
Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA)
Agreement has been achieved on the means to calculate and claim the benefits accrued from the use of sustainable aviation fuels within the context of CORSIA. This is significant in terms of reducing airlines’ offsetting requirements.
The agreement included the default values and the methodologies for calculating actual values needed to calculate the life-cycle CO2 emissions reduction benefits of different feedstocks. CAEP has also agreed on the requirements for Sustainability Certification Schemes (SCS) and a process to evaluate and recommend a list of eligible SCS, which will certify fuels against the CORSIA sustainability criteria. This package of agreements provides the clarity needed for the energy sector to embark in the production of sustainable fuels for aviation, and is an important step towards CORSIA implementation.
In addition, CAEP has delivered a recommendation for the rules and procedure for the ICAO Council’s Technical Advisory Body (TAB), which will evaluate the eligibility of emissions units for use in CORSIA. Another agreement was the technical updates of Environmental Technical Manual on CORSIA, which clarifies the recommended actions by States and airlines for monitoring, reporting and verification of CO2 emissions under CORSIA.
Environmental Trends and Outlook
The meeting agreed on the updated ICAO environmental trends for noise, local air quality (NOx and nvPM) and global climate (CO2), which will be the basis for the considerations of ICAO environmental policies at the next ICAO Assembly, in September 2019.
Important publications were also developed as part of ICAO’s eco-airport toolkit collection in the areas of renewable energy, waste management, environmental management, and eco-design of airport building.
Regarding climate change adaptation, a Synthesis Report was approved for publication, providing important information on the climate risk impacts and resilient options for the sector.
Two other important reports were agreed: one on the state of aircraft end-of-life and recycling; and the other on performance-based navigation and community engagement.
The meeting further agreed with the results of the assessment of the positive effects of operational improvements. The assessment showed that the implementation of these measures, as per ICAO global plans, savings of fuel between of 167 to 307 kg per flight can be achieved by 2025. This corresponds respectively to a reduction of 26.2 to 48.2 Mt of CO2. The meeting agreed on the publication of the white paper “State of the Science 2019: Aviation Noise Impacts Workshop”.
CAEP also considered the progress that has been achieved towards supersonic transport operations, and agreed that an exploratory study should be undertaken.
CAEP will also assess how to certify other new technologies such as hybrid and electric aircraft as part of its future work.
CAEP is a technical body of the ICAO Council, and all the technical recommendations agreed by CAEP above will be considered by the Council for final approval.
Critics attack secrecy at UN’s ICAO CAEP committee, tasked with cutting global airline CO2 emissions
A UN ICAO committee, Committee on Aviation and Environmental Protection (CAEP), with the job of cutting global aircraft carbon emissions (an issue of global concern) is meeting secretly, for discussions dominated by airline industry observers. The committee always meets behind closed doors; the press and other observers are not allowed in (unlike other UN committees). The committee’s agenda and discussion documents are not released to the public or the international press. Anyone who leaks documents being discussed faces “unlimited liability for confidentiality breaches”, according to ICAO rules. The only non-governmental body not linked to the airline industry allowed into the meeting is the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA), made up of a small group of international environmental NGOs. Transparency International says “Agencies which set common global standards for large, international industries have to be transparent in order to prevent capture by corporate interests … ” A key concern is that the committee wants to certify biofuels, that are definitely NOT environmentally sustainable, as low carbon. And also fossil oil, produced using solar energy – also NOT a low carbon fuel. The committee needs to be open to public scrutiny.
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ICAO’s CORSIA low standards on biofuels risk undercutting EU’s new renewables rules
The UN’s ICAO is a secretive organisation, that has been woefully ineffective in limiting the CO2 emissions of global aviation. There are considerable concerns that it will try to get bad biofuels certified as low carbon, in order to whitewash the sector’s emissions in future. The global deal, CORSIA, making the first tentative steps towards restricting aviation CO2 at all is just starting. There is, elsewhere, growing understanding that biofuels are generally not the way forward, and their real lifecycle carbon emissions are far higher than their proponents make out. ICAO has now agree 2 criteria (out of 12 possible) for aviation biofuels. These are that there should have been no deforestation after 2009; and there should be at least a saving of 10% of green house gas emissions, (including emissions from indirect land-use change or ILUC) compared to fossil jet kerosene. ICAO’s environment committee will develop rules for what biofuels can be credited – ie. how much of an emissions reduction each biofuel delivers. The effect can only be accurately accounted for using models. There is a serious danger they will try and include palm oil. And countries like Saudi Arabia are trying to get “lower carbon” fossil fuels included, if their production can be 10% more carbon efficient. So aviation will continue to emit vast amounts of carbon for decades….
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Experts say legal obstacles no barrier to introducing aviation fuel tax for flights in Europe
EU countries can end the decades-long exemption on taxing aviation fuel. Legal experts say it is possible to tax kerosene on flights between EU countries. This could either be done at EU level through a series of bilateral agreements or by agreement between individual countries. Transport & Environment (T&E) has found that the old argument that foreign carriers’ operating within the EU – de facto a small number of flights – can’t be taxed can be overcome by introducing a de minimis threshold below which fuel burn would not be taxed. At present (and for decades past) airlines, unlike almost all other forms of transport, pay no fuel tax on flights within or from the EU – even though aviation causes 5% of global warming. They also pay no VAT. Despite the aviation industry’s attempts to hide behind the 1944 Chicago Convention, when the agreement was made on not taxing aviation fuel, that is not what is preventing fuel taxation. In fact it is old bilateral ‘air service agreements’ that European governments signed up to years ago that include mutual fuel tax exemptions for non-EU airlines. It remains too hard to tax fuel for international, non-EU, flights.
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CORSIA and its failings explained – great piece from Carbon Brief
In a long, detailed and very informative article from Carbon Brief, Jocelyn Timperley explains the CORSIA scheme for aircraft carbon emissions, and its failings. While airlines are starting this year to measure and record their carbon emissions for the first time, it is not expected that the scheme will do anything much to limit aviation carbon. “It can be expected to “modestly reduce” the net climate impact of international aviation up to 2035, according to the (ICCT). This is only if high-quality offsets are used and those offsets are not “double counted”, the think-tank adds…. Unless it is extended beyond 2035, Corsia will cover only 6% of projected CO2 emissions from all international aviation between 2015 and 2050, ICCT data indicates.” That assumes China will partake from the pilot phase. “Base emissions continue to grow under Corsia due to uncovered traffic….. The ICCT argues this means Corsia “does not obviate the need for an ICAO long-term climate goal”. Because of a range of issues, like biofuels, offsets, forestry etc : “It’s not just that Corsia is a weak measure – it’s that it’s an actively bad measure, that risks doing more harm than good.”
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