- Where We Work
- Who We Are
- Info & Tools
Aircraft play a vital role in our modern economy by quickly and conveniently transporting goods and people. But they also exact environmental costs. If counted as a country, globally the aviation sector would rank 7th in terms of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, just after Germany and well above Korea in 2011. Projections are that CO2 emissions from aviation will triple by 2050 under business-as-usual scenarios, as more people and goods move by air, unless effective policies are developed to constrain emissions growth. Nitrogen oxide (NOx), particulate matter (PM), noise, and lead pollution also impact often disadvantaged communities living near airports.
A number of governments and international organizations are working to manage the environmental impact of the aviation industry. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized UN agency, oversees and acts as the de facto regulator of airlines and aerospace manufacturers worldwide. ICAO adopted its first aircraft noise standard in 1972 and its first engine certification standards for air pollutants in 1981. Since then, ICAO has periodically tightened both policies, and is currently developing the world’s first CO2 and PM emission standards for new aircraft and engines, respectively.
Regional action is also important. Since January 1, 2012, all flights to, from, and within the European Economic Area (EEA) have been included in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), although not without controversy. The EU ETS requirements have been suspended for flights to and from countries outside the EEA until 2017 in order to allow ICAO opportunity to develop a framework for a market-based measure (MBM) for international aviation by 2016. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) intends to finalize an initial rulemaking process for aircraft greenhouse gases in 2016 as well.
The ICCT contributes technical research to these various forums to inform policymaking to improve the environmental performance and energy efficiency of the aviation industry.