Final EPA greenhouse gas endangerment finding for aircraft is a needed step on aviation carbon emissions
July 25, 2016—The final endangerment finding on aircraft engine greenhouse gas emissions released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a welcome step forward on the path toward controlling and ultimately reducing CO2 emissions from the aviation sector.
“The endangerment finding is key because it obligates the EPA to take regulatory action to cut CO2 emissions from aircraft—it triggers a legal mandate,” said Drew Kodjak, executive director of the ICCT. “Our analysis clearly shows that the aircraft CO2 standard proposed by the International Civil Aviation Organization won’t offer meaningful reductions. This opens a real possibility to get a better standard.”
When the EPA issued its proposed finding that aircraft emissions cause or contribute to air pollution endangering public health and welfare, in July 2015, it also issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to examine international efforts to reduce GHG emissions from the aviation sector and the potential for U.S. standards under the Clean Air Act. The ANPRM stated that the adoption of an international CO2 standard is contingent upon it being “consistent with [U.S. law] and is appropriate for domestic needs in the United States.”
In February 2016, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) proposed a performance standard for new aircraft that will on average require a 4% reduction in the cruise fuel consumption of all new aircraft in 2028, with higher, but still technology following, requirements for new designs certified starting in about 2024. But market forces alone are predicted to achieve more than a 10% efficiency gain over the same twelve-year period covered by the ICAO standard.
“EPA’s finding today confirms that aircraft emissions are significant and need to be regulated under the Clean Air Act,” said Dan Rutherford, ICCT’s aviation program director. “Research suggests that the fuel burn of new aircraft designs can be reduced by 25% by 2024—triple the improvement required under ICAO’s proposal—using cost-effective emerging technologies. Manufacturers can do more, and US policies should reflect that.”
ICCT policy update on ICAO CO2 standard proposal, February 2016