• Aviation is a global business with many international airlines operating at UK airports and flying overhead through UK airspace. Some effects such as CO2 emissions can have a global impact by contributing to climate change, and action in the UK alone would not stop this. Instead, impacts like this must be addressed internationally.

    Who’s responsible?

    The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is a specialist agency of the United Nations set up to define international safety, environmental and operating standards for civil aviation. Currently more than 190 countries are members, and aviation rules in each of these follow ICAO standards and recommended practices.

    ICAO has developed or is developing standards, policies and guidance around the following environmentally-related issues:

    • aircraft noise
    • aircraft engine emissions
    • operating procedures
    • organisation of air traffic movements
    • airport land use planning
    • use of market-based measures to tackle CO2 emissions.

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) has produced guidelines for community noise for national governments to consider when developing policy. The WHO regional office for Europe has taken this further by developing guidelines for night noise.

    At the European level, the European Commission (EC) has a number of policies to help improve the environmental performance of aviation.

    On CO2, the EC is:

    • encouraging research and development in to ‘greener’ technology
    • modernising the air traffic system to reduce unnecessary emissions
    • including aviation in the EU emissions trading system. In relation to air quality and noise it has numerous policies in place to tackle these effects from a range of pollutant sources – including aviation.

    Two other European bodies also have environmental roles.

    • The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) takes account of environmental issues predominantly through the environmental type certification of aeronautical products (aircraft, engines and other components).
    • Eurocontrol helps manage air traffic movements across Europe. For more information on its environmental work, please visit Eurocontrol’s environmental pages.

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