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New airline industry CO2 standards agreed on at Montreal conference

The 10th annual meeting of the committee on Aviation Environmental Protection is about to wrap up in Montreal, having worked since February 1 on finalizing the terms of the world’s first agreement to put forward new binding CO2 emission limits for the commercial aviation industry, drawn up by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP).
While the agreement may seem impressive at first glance, critics are pointing out that these limits are already in line with processes scheduled to be undertaken by the major industry players in any event.
For its part, the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada issued a statement praising the work of the 170 member task force, composed of representatives of the Canadian government, as well as other international governments, industry representatives and stakeholders.
If the emissions standards are approved later this year by the ICAO, aircraft designs produced after 2020 will be required to comply with the new standards, with in-production aircraft required to comply by 2023 and a new set of standards for aircraft entering service in 2028 or later.
“AIAC is very pleased that ICAO has reached consensus on a new standard for CO2 emissions from civil aircraft, and we are confident that Canadian industry will be in compliance with the new standards when they come into effect.” said Jim Quick, President and CEO. “These are complex negotiations and the ambitious targets that have been set would not have been possible without the close cooperation and input of the Canadian government, industry members, and our partners at ICCAIA and ICAO.”
As pointed out in a chart (Figure 3) presented by the International Council on Clean Transportation during the Montreal conference, the already widely used Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 models won’t pass the proposed emissions restrictions, but are scheduled to be phased out anyway, with their replacements, the A320neo and 737MAX families coming into service by late 2017.
Aviation accounts for approximately 2% of the world’s total carbon dioxide output, and about 11% of transportation emissions.
Without any action taken, aviation emissions are projected to rise by 50%.
Fully implemented, the standards are expected to reduce carbon emissions more than 650 million tons between 2020 and 2040, the equivalent of removing over 140 million cars from the road.
Airlines have been working to develop new engines to reduce fuel consumption, with each new generation of aircraft consuming between 10% and 15% less fuel, putting the new designs in line with the new ICAO restrictions.
The global climate deal reached at the COP21 conference in Paris in December excluded aviation emissions from its agreement.
In 2012, the European Union implemented a charge for carbon emissions within EU borders, including from non-European aircraft, outraging those airlines with the result that the EU has delayed imposing any charges for aircraft flying in and out of the EU until 2017.
According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, industry standards are likely to be well under the pass/fail margin dictated by the ICAO this week.
“Beginning in 2020, eight years before the standard takes effect, the average new aircraft delivered is expected to comply with the standard by approximately 10%,” writes the ICCT. “This projected pre-compliance with the standard is due to the introduction of many new aircraft designs over the next five years (e.g. A320neo, 737 MAX, the 777X, the A330neo, Embraer E-Jet E-2) that pass the standard with a substantial margin.”

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