Global aviation industry debates green policy

Noise, greenhouse gas emissions, dominate conference on environmental impacts

Growing concerns over aircraft noise and questions about the type of measures that should be introduced to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from planes dominated an international conference on aviation and the environment held last week in Montreal.

Organised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the conference sought to "test the waters" among member states in preparation for an assembly meeting this autumn focused on environmental issues.

On noise, delegates debated whether the EU should have the right to ban aircraft that meet current noise standards by only a small margin. The EU is pushing for the ICAO to revise its rules and allow individual regions to impose restrictions on such aircraft - many of which use hushkit technology. Many European aviation representatives argue that noise pollution is threatening to stymie the industry's growth within the region and that a ban on the noisiest aircraft is urgently required.

The EU introduced a ban on hushkitted aircraft last year, but the move has been legally challenged by the USA (ENDS Daily 20 November 2000). A source told ENDS Daily that pressure was mounting for a compromise to be found in time for the autumn assembly meeting. Informal talks took place in Montreal, but "considerable differences" remained. The matter is urgent because the assembly must approve any compromise that is reached, and the ICAO assembly meets only once every three years.

The other key issue under discussion last week was work by ICAO's environment committee on options to control aircraft carbon dioxide emissions. European Commission representatives told delegates that EU policy proposals should be ready early next year. The support of the ICAO assembly for EU plans to control aircraft emissions would be "helpful," a source said, because many developing countries were resisting the plans. They argue that EU regional policy on aircraft emissions would mean that companies based in countries not required under the Kyoto protocol to reduce national emissions would nevertheless have to comply with Kyoto-linked quantitative emission targets.

Follow Up:
ICAO, tel: +1 514 954 8219, meeting; European Commission transport directorate, tel: +32 2 299 1111.

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