• July 24, 2020

    EPA Proposes GHG Emission Standards for Aircraft

    Stephen Eule

This week, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler unveiled proposed emissions standards for commercial aviation, a first for the aviation sector.

Known formally as “Control of Air Pollution From Aircraft and Aircraft Engines: Proposed Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards and Test Procedures,” the rule would build on the leadership of U.S. airlines equipment manufacturers, EPA, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) by crafting a new international agreement to limit emissions from this sector in the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Because of the international nature of commercial aircraft (and maritime shipping), emissions from aircraft are not covered in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change or its Paris Agreement. ICAO is the international agency that regulates many aspects of international aviation, including environmental protection.

EPA’s proposed rule—which the Global Energy Institute supports—would essentially implement the carbon dioxide emissions standards for aircraft developed over a number of years, and eventually agreed to in ICAO.  The ICAO standards are an important part of the industry’s strategy to cut net global aviation emissions to half of what they were in 2005 by 2050.

EPA’s proposal is just the first step. While EPA is charged with setting the standards, the FAA will develop rules enforcing them once they become final and begin certifying aircraft.

One set of international standards will create a level playing field, which means that aircraft designed and built in the United States should be more competitive in the global marketplace. This is an important consideration because, as EPA notes, about 75% of the aircraft built here are sold overseas. When finalized, the standards would apply to new type designs in 2020 and to planes in production by 2028.

This rule will give equipment manufacturers the predictability they need to get back on their feet and reduce emissions in the most cost-effective way, while maintaining their competitiveness in world markets.