EPA clears path to regulate carbon emissions from U.S. aircraft
27 July 2016 | Markets
Protection Agency on Monday finalized its determination that greenhouse gases from airplanes endanger public health, a decision that requires the agency to regulate emissions from U.S. aircraft.
"Addressing pollution from aircraft is an important element of U.S. efforts to address climate change," EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Janet McCabe said in a statement announcing the finding.
U.S. aircraft are the third-biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions from the domestic transportation sector and are projected to rise without future curbs, McCabe said.
The endangerment finding triggers the EPA to start a rule- making process for a greenhouse gas emission standard for aircraft.
The EPA said the standard would be "at least as stringent" as one developed by the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization.
In February, after six years of talks, the ICAO agreed on a global standard aimed at makers of small and large planes that will apply to all new aircraft models launched after 2020. The standard awaits approval by ICAO's governing council in Montreal in September or October before being adopted in March 2017.
Greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft primarily come from a range of jet engines on planes built by companies that include Embraer SA, Airbus Group SE and Boeing Co .
The EPA and the Federal Aviation Administration represented the United States in the negotiations, where they pushed for more stringent targets than in the European Union.
Environmental groups, however, said the ICAO standards fall short of what is needed to curb greenhouse gas emissions from aviation, one of the fastest-growing sources of emissions.
ICCT, an environmental research group, said the EPA rule-making process triggered by Monday's finding offers the United States the opportunity to create a more stringent standard that will make use of "cost-effective emerging technologies."
ICCT's Dan Rutherford said fuel burn of new aircraft designs can be reduced by 25 percent by 2024, three times what is required by the proposed ICAO standard.
The Obama administration has tackled emissions from power plants and automobiles but had yet to regulate the U.S. commercial aviation sector.
The Paris climate agreement, in which over 190 countries agreed to halt or curb their greenhouse gas emissions through different national approaches, did not include aviation.
Aviation and shipping account for around 5 percent of global emissions, a share expected to grow to a third of all emissions by 2050 if left unchecked, according to European Commission data.