The US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has announced today that emissions from aircraft endanger human health, after being forced to issue a ruling due to a lawsuit filed by a number of US environmental groups. The EPA already found that greenhouse gases (GHGs) from cars and power plants were harmful to public health because of their climate impact.
Due to the provisions in US law (the Clean Air Act), the EPA will now be required to regulate this source of emissions – prior to this aviation emissions were completely unregulated in the US.
It could do this by adopting the standards that the UN's civil aviation body, ICAO, is drafting which, on current plans, are likely to be largely ineffective and only regulate 5% of the global fleet in 2030. The EU and US therefore need to step up cooperation at ICAO to ensure an environmentally effective standard. Alternatively, the US and EU could draft their own standards, which would be much more effective at reducing emissions from the sector.
Bill Hemmings, aviation policy manager at Transport & Environment, said: “Europe should work with the US to ensure that the ICAO standards, which are in the final stages of development, are greatly improved. If that fails, the EU should join forces with the US to introduce stricter standards for the European and US markets, which are over half of the global aviation market.”