Aircraft emissions standards

From Policy Atlas
Jump to: navigation, search

Aircraft emission regulations are policies, either governmental or voluntary, that seek to reduce the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) and various other pollutants (NOx, HC, CH4, CO, SOx), in order to combat climate change and promote better air quality. [1] Policies can function as a set of enforceable standards, such as the United States, or as a market-based measure like that of Europe, where airlines receive tradeable allowances covering a certain level of CO2 emissions from their flights per year. [2]Aircraft emissions regulations, primarily focused on commercial aircraft, can be implemented through national departments, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), international organizations, such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), or governments such as the European Union (EU), specifically the European Commission (EC). [3]


  1. Goal: Decrease the rate of environmental damage from airplane transportation
  2. Goal: Increase the fuel efficiency of airplane transportation
  3. Goal: Improve air quality for public health
  4. Goal: Decrease the amount of CO2 and other pollutants


A developing country, India for example, seeks to reduce the amount of total emissions released by all transportation modes throughout the country. The government notices that the amount of domestic commercial flights contributes a significant amount of emissions to the atmosphere. In an effort to improve air quality throughout the country and aid the greater cause of curtailing climate change, the Indian government introduces legislation that sets a list of standards for the specific amount of CO2 and related pollutants that are released from jet engines. Following passage of the regulation, all newly built aircraft will need to comply with standards, as well as older aircraft will needed to be retrofitted.


Tradeoffs of implementing this policy may include:

  1. Increases the operating costs for airlines [4]
  2. Increased costs of tradeable allowances has the potential to decrease profitability for the industry.[5]
  3. Increases in ticket prices may decrease demand[6]
  4. Increased maintenance of aircraft for airlines [7]
  5. Because of increased flight demand, emissions still pose a threat[8]
  6. Less profitable airline routes will be cut[9]
Compatibility Assessment

If answered yes, the following questions indicate superior conditions under which the policy is more likely to be appropriate:

  1. Is air transportation a significant source of local air pollution?
  2. Could airlines meet emission standards without unduly significant compliance costs?
  3. Would meeting emission standards result in a material improvement in air quality beyond the costs of governmental oversight?
  4. Would imposing emission standards be possible without causing airlines to reduce air service levels?

The following questions should be considered when determining how to implement this policy:

  1. In setting up the framework of emissions legislation, should it be more of a “standards” approach or a “tradeable allowances” approach?
  2. How will emission standards for aircraft be enforced?
  3. What will the penalties be for failing to meet emissions standards?
  4. How will emissions standards be measured?
  5. For older aircraft engines, will these be allowed to be grandfathered in, or will there be a need for retrofitting?






  • The impact of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme on US aviation. Malina, Robert. McConnachie, Dominic. Winchester, Niven. Wollersheim, Christoph. Paltsev, Sergey. Waitz, Ian. (2012). Journal of Air Transport Management, Vol. 19: 36-41. This paper estimates the economic impacts on US airlines that may arise from the European Union Emission Trading Scheme
  10. INSERT a reference.
  15. [
  16. [
  17. [
  18. [
Related Policies

PolicyAtlas is maintained by volunteer contributors. For instructions on how to join PolicyAtlas, simply create an account and read about how to contribute a policy.

You can also follow @PolicyAtlas and contact us on: Twitter Icon.png Twitter, Facebook Icon.png Facebook, Instagram Icon.png Instagram and Email.