Airline manufacturers escape threat of big costs from new U.N. climate standards
By Allison Lampert
MONTREAL Feb 22 (Reuters) - After six years of negotiations over U.N. greenhouse gas regulations, the aerospace industry dodged the threat of spending billions of dollars to re-engineer airplanes.
The industry got help from European and Russian negotiators, who successfully argued that the standards should not render newer, more efficient planes obsolete, according to three people familiar with the U.N. talks in Montreal this month.
The latest planes from companies such as Boeing Co and Airbus Group SE - which cost tens of billions of dollars to develop - will meet the new emissions standards.
European negotiators also led an effort to forge a compromise exempting older, fuel-guzzling aircraft from the standards until 2028 - five years longer than a competing proposal pushed by U.S. negotiators, according to U.S. and European sources with direct knowledge of the talks.
The new rules - criticized as too lenient by environmentalists - were adopted by U.N.'s aviation agency, the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization. ICAO has no direct power to craft or enforce regulations but facilitates negotiations over standards that become mandatory for the agency's 190 member countries.
The stakes are high. A 2012 ICAO paper predicted that international aviation emissions would increase 68 percent between 2010 and 2020, from 390 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent to 654 megatonnes.
Projections for how much the ICAO rules will lower carbon emissions vary widely. The White House estimates they would reduce as much as 650 million tonnes of carbon dioxide between 2020 and 2040 - or the equivalent of taking 140 million cars off the road during the same period.
Environmental advocates argued the new standards will do little to lower emissions, especially with air traffic expected to double over 15 years, according to ICAO projections. ICAO did not make any public estimate of carbon emissions that the new standards would eliminate. Continued...