ICAO’s CAEP (environment) committee meets in Montreal this week to decide on a global CO2 (fuel efficiency) standard for new aircraft. The standard has been 6 years in the making and is intended to require aircraft manufacturers to produce new aircraft after an agreed date in the 2020s with a design fuel efficiency better than that which would have happened without the standard. These design fuel efficiency improvements would generate real “in sector” emissions reductions as opposed to ICAO’s plan to use offsets in its global MBM under development which would see aviation emissions unaffected and the “heavy-lifting” done by other sectors of the global economy.
Aviation is responsible for an estimated 5% of global warming and its emissions are growing at 4-5% each year. Unless action is taken, the sector risks undermining the Paris Agreement's objective of limiting a temperature increase to 1.5 degrees. There are a number of measures that could be introduced at international and EU level which would reduce the climate impact of the sector, and these need to be pursued urgently by policy makers.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is set to agree in 2016 on the first ever CO2 efficiency standard for new aircraft. With aviation responsible for an estimated 5% of global warming, and the sector’s emissions growing at 4-5% each year, an effective standard which delivers emission reductions beyond business-as-usual is essential if the objectives of the Paris Agreement are to be achieved. Environmental NGOs fear, however, that the outcome could be a weak standard which has little or no environmental impact.
Aviation giant Airbus is undermining a global fuel efficiency standard for new aircraft – barely weeks after Europe was instrumental in helping secure an ambitious UN global climate deal in Paris, a group of 17 European environmental NGOs  has claimed. Airbus and Boeing aircraft combined account for over 90% of global aviation emissions, but the European manufacturer is arguing it cannot accept a robust efficiency standard as it would damage its business – a claim which suggests it may not be so competitive on fuel efficiency.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation is due to agree, at its triennial General Assembly in October 2016, a global market based (GMBM) mechanism for international aviation emissions. The International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation, a coalition of environmental NGOs which includes T&E, have drafted a Litmus Draft for what an environmentally effective GMBM would contain.
Last year was the one in which it became plain for everyone to see that transport had turned from being the grey sheep to the black sheep in Europe and the world’s efforts to improve the environment.
While the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) continued its essential work to develop a global market-based mechanism to cut the sector’s emissions, by far the biggest highlight of 2015 was the Paris COP21 summit.
The absence of any reference to international aviation and shipping emissions in the Paris Agreement casts doubts over who is responsible for reining in their skyrocketing emissions, green NGOs Seas At Risk, Carbon Market Watch and Transport & Environment have said. While the Agreement endorses a target of 1.5°C, this cannot be achieved unless these two sectors urgently rein in their emissions.
The Paris ‘Conference of the Parties’ 21, the most important climate conference since the failed Copenhagen one of six years ago, is nearing an outcome. The dramatic 13 November events in the city has surely added grit to France’s determination to succeed, and has forged some unusual alliances. There is some hope that the spirit of togetherness – not just against terrorism but also to tackle that other global threat which the COP is about – will help in forging a transformative deal.