The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to find that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from particular classes of aircraft endanger public health and welfare and contribute to air pollution, a leading cause of climate change. The finding, proposed within the welfare section 231(a) of the Clean Air Act (CAA or The Act) is made in conjunction with an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which provides information on the process of setting international CO2 aircraft emissions standards through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

“The proposed GHG cause and contribution findings for aircraft engines are an initial step toward potentially aligning future international and U.S. standards for CO2 emissions from aircraft engines,” states the EPA on its website in an article explaining the findings and the ICAO standard-setting process.

A paper released by World Fuel | Colt partner points out that, while aircraft are not yet subject to GHG standards within the U.S., they remain the single largest source of GHG emissions.

According to EPA research, U.S. aircraft emit:

  • 11 percent of GHG emissions from the transportation sector in the U.S.
  • 3 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions
  • 29 percent of GHG emissions from all aircraft globally
  • 0.5 percent of total global GHG emissions highlighted the affected aircraft and exemptions, according to the EPA proposed findings. Subsonic jet aircraft with maximum takeoff mass (MTOM) greater then 5,700 kilograms and subsonic propeller driven aircraft with MTOM greater than 8.618 kilograms stand to be most affected by potential emission standards. These include smaller aircraft similar to a Cessna Citation CJ2+, mid-range aircraft including an Embraer E170, and large aircraft such at the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380.

Exemptions to the proposed finding include piston engine aircraft, smaller turbo props, military aircraft, very light jets (VLJs) and helicopters.

Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Background

The EPA has worked to reduce air pollution from aircraft engines since 1973. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA consults with the Federal Aviation Administration to develop domestic aircraft engine emission standards. Section 232 of the CAA requires the FAA to ensure compliance with the standards set by the EPA.

The EPA and the FAA have traditionally worked in compliance with the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization, and subsequent EPA rulemakings under the CAA section 231 have sought to establish U.S. domestic standards equivalent to ICAO standards. During the last five years, the ICAO has worked with the aviation industry and environmental groups to establish an international CO2 emissions standard. The EPA and the FAA represent the United States on ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) and seek to ensure that CAEP “develops an international standard that achieves meaningful CO2 emissions reductions through policies that are equitable across national boundaries,” states the EPA.


This new international CO2 emission standard is expected to be adopted by the ICAO/CAEP by February, 2016, and it is anticipated that the U.S. will exercise EPA standard-setting and FAA enforcement to enact domestic GHG regulation that is compliant with the new international standard.

The EPA seeks comments from all interested parties, including small businesses, on a number of issues related to setting CO2 standards including:

  • The appropriate effective dates for the potential CO2 international standard
  • The appropriate stringency levels for the CO2 standard
  • Whether international standards should apply to new in-production aircraft as well as new aircraft types

The EPA will accept comments for 60 days in the Federal Register. Persons interested in submitting comments should follow the guidelines for submission outlined here:

More information on the EPA’s regulation of GHG emissions can be found here:

Contact World Fuel | Colt for more information on the global monitoring of your Aircraft Emissions at +1-281-280-2200 or

The information provided is based on current information at time of publication and may be subject to change.
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