A major hurdle has been overcome with regard to the implementation of internationally agreed rules on airliner pollution in the USA. The US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has ruled that greenhouse gases emitted from aircraft endanger public health. The finding now requires that the EPA regulates greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft under the Clean AirAct.
According to a statement issued by Janet McCabe, EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation, “Addressing pollution from aircraft is an important element of US efforts to address climate change,” adding that without future curbs on emissions, US emissions will continue to rise. The endangerment finding is the catalyst for kickstarting the EPA rule-making process either to adopt the emission standard developed by the UN’s ICAO, or to develop one that is “at least as stringent.”
Following six years of talks the ICAO agreed on a global standard applicable to makers of both small and large planes, including Boeing and Airbus, which will become applicable to new aircraft models from 2020. Approval for the standard will be sought from ICAO’s governing council in Montreal before it is subsequently adopted in March 2017. According to Anthony Philbin, a spokesman for ICAO, this standard will require 40 percent of current aircraft designs to be improved or end production by 2028
Currently environmental groups are arguing that the ICAO merely ratified what manufacturers were already doing, while Airbus, Boeing and their engine manufacturers have invested tens of billions of dollars in new technology to save on fuel, which consequently cuts carbon emissions, during the last decade of higher oil prices.
Dan Rutherford, a representative of the environment research group ICCT, said that fuel burn of new aircraft designs can be reduced by 25% by 2024, which is three times that required by the proposed ICAO standard. Where emissions are concerned, the Obama administration had tackled such aspects as cars and power plants, but had no approached the airline industry. It is anticipated that the next US administration, which will take office next January, will oversee the aviation rule-making process.
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