IEEP Studies the Role of the EU in Attempting to 'Green' the ICAO

A recent IEEP research paper examines the integration of environmental concerns into the aviation sector within the context of the peculiar multi-level governance structure that shapes policy in the sector.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the aviation sector are the fastest growing source of man-made GHG emissions and are projected to increase significantly in the future. In the EU, if current growth trends continue, the increase in aircraft emissions threatens to undermine efforts to reduce global GHG emissions.

At the global level, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has undertaken modest efforts to integrate environmental concerns into its policies, particularly with regard to GHG emissions. At the regional level, the EU and its Member States have actively pushed for more stringent international standards for aircraft, with regard to noise emissions in the late 1990s and more recently with regard to GHG emissions. The EU's recently agreed proposal to include emissions from international aviation in the EU emission trading scheme has not been received favourably by the ICAO or its members. However, the EU has decided to go ahead with its plans, which ultimately serve to improve environmental policy integration (EPI) in the aviation sector.

A recent IEEP research paper examines the integration of environmental concerns into the aviation sector within the context of the peculiar multi-level governance structure that shapes policy in the sector. In the context of two case studies, on aircraft noise emissions and GHG emissions respectively, this paper argues that unilateral EU action to improve EPI in the aviation sector has been able to effectively influence global action in the past, and based on this experience its recent efforts to incorporate concerns related to GHG emissions can be expected to improve EPI at the regional and possibly the global level.

This research was part of the EPIGOV project on the modes of governance employed at global, EU, national and regional/local levels to support the integration of environmental concerns into other policy areas. A final policy meeting presenting the results of this three-year project to policymakers and interested stakeholders will be held in January 2009 in Brussels in cooperation with the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).

Download: The Role of the EU in Attempting to ‘Green’ the ICAO (PDF)