Standards for aircraft efficiency and what it means for the environment

Yesterday, I spoke at a meeting with aviation experts to look at how we can ensure CO2 efficiency for new aircrafts and addressing global warming concerns. The meeting was a roundtable discussion with experts including Paul Petters, an expert on aviation emissions, Bill Hemmings, the Aviation and Shipping Manager of Transport & Environment, a network of environmental groups and campaigners working for sustainable transport policies at national, regional and local level and Thierry Nowaczyk, the European Affairs Director of Airbus.

The issue of reducing aviation emissions is crucial if we are serious about limiting increases in global temperatures. Emissions from international aviation are responsible for almost 5% of all global warming and the International Civil Aviation Authority’s (ICAO) own research estimates that these emissions will increase by up to 300% by 2050.

Demand for aviation is projected to grow 80% between 2010 and 2030. That is why it is critical that any growth in the industry is accompanied by effective measures to reduce emissions and ensure a shift towards newer, more efficient aeroplanes.

Currently there are moves to achieve a target of carbon neutral growth in the air sector by 2020 but the question is whether this will be enough. Some experts worry this target is an insufficient contribution from international aviation, especially if we are serious about limiting increases in the global temperature to 2 degrees.

At the same time, the aviation industry is a major transport sector and an important generator of jobs and mobility. We want to ensure that industry is not stymied but we need to do this while also protecting the environment. It is vital that the industry is involved in decarbonisation process, to incentivise new technologies and ensure a workable framework for tackling CO2 and other emissions.

The development of a global aeroplane C02 emissions standard is a key element in the wider fight against climate change. Since the start of the jet age, more than 60 years ago, the aviation industry has reduced fuel burn by around 70%. New generations of aircrafts are around 10% more efficient than previous generations – we want to see this continue and we want aircrafts that are more fuel efficient to be cost-effective to produce. We also want them to come online as soon as possible – the longer we have to wait for fuel efficient aircrafts to be available then the longer the older, less efficient models will continue to be used.

The European Parliament has agreed some of the most ambitious strategies to tackle climate change in Europe and beyond. And if we, as the EU, do not feel that the proposed standard will effectively reduce emissions in the aviation sector, we will continue to push for further action and a more ambitious approach.

We have a real opportunity to introduce a fair and achievable CO2 standard for the aviation sector, and MEPs will have a key role to play. I am looking forward to working on these issues with my Labour colleague Lucy Anderson and other S&D MEPs in the Parliament. By working together and with policy makers, civil society and industry, we can ensure the EU is able to meet its climate change obligations.