Levels of nitrogen oxide to be cut significantly under stringent recommendations from environmental committee

Aircraft emission levels are set to be significantly cut if new recommendations from the International Civil Aviation Organisation's environmental committee are agreed by the ICAO Council in June.

The Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) wants far more stringent standards for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and has called for progress on market-based measures to limit emissions. It also wants tighter aircraft noise control.

The measures were agreed at the CAEP/6 meeting, in Montreal from 2-12 February, which brought together more than 200 aviation and environmental experts from around the world for the sixth such gathering in a series that has already had a significant effect on imposing tougher emissions standards. ICAO's Council will review the recommendations and report to the General Assembly in September.

CAEP wants NOx emissions to be cut by 12% compared with levels agreed in 1999 as part of moves to encourage manufacturers to develop technologies that would enable CAEP to specify still lower levels at its eighth meeting in 2010.

Agreement was reached on market-based (ie voluntary) options for cutting carbon dioxide levels, the committee recommending that ICAO should study both voluntary trading systems and integration of aviation emissions with current schemes used for other transport systems. But CAEP says the idea of imposing levies on those exceeding CO2 standards is "proving difficult".

"CO2 is a very difficult area because it is a global issue and there is still no way of imposing an international levy on those emissions, so we've agreed on a voluntary system," says CAEP secretary Jane Hupe. "But we're learning all the time and the success of this agreement is in the way we're finding how to relate the cuts in emissions to the technology available for doing so. It means we're working with, rather than against, industry to achieve lower noise and emissions."

Further noise reduction measures will concentrate on a "balanced approach", says Hupe, aimed at four areas: reduction of noise at source; land-use planning and management; operational procedures; and operating restrictions.

Source: Flight International