March 9, 2012

Ready for Takeoff? The Race to Develop a Global Framework on Aviation GHGs


Dr. Dan Rutherford, Senior Researcher and Aviation Lead, International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT)


2012 marks a potential turning point in the debate about policies to constrain the climate impact of aircraft. Commercial aviation is a significant contributor to climate change, being responsible for approximately 3.5% of anthropogenic global warming in 2005, with CO2 emissions projected to quadruple by mid-century. Beginning January 1st, the European Union began imposing a price on carbon for flights arriving or departing its airports, leading to charges of violating international law and threats of retaliation from foreign nations concerned about the potential impact on their carriers. Within the US, a coalition of NGOs filed suit against the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 for delays in regulating aviation greenhouse gases (GHGs) under the Clean Air Act. A decision on that suit, anticipated in the first half of this year, may start the countdown to domestic regulation. This seminar will provide an insider’s perspective on the policy and technical issues under discussion, with a specific focus on efforts by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to develop a global framework to control aviation emissions. In particular, Dan will summarize three years of ICCT research on aircraft and airline efficiency and discuss the implications of that work for ICAO’s efforts to design an efficiency standard for new aircraft. He will also discuss related policies such as the EU’s Aviation Directive and the potential contribution of aviation alternative fuels in constraining emissions growth.

Biographical Sketch

Dan Rutherford is a Senior Researcher and Aviation Lead at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), a research-based non-profit organization that works with progressive regulators worldwide to promote best practices to control emissions from the transportation sector.  Among other duties, Dan serves as a member of ICAO’s emissions and technology working group (WG3), which since 2010 has been working to develop a global efficiency standard for new aircraft.  He also researches policies to reduce conventional pollutant emissions from heavy-duty trucks and buses, and heads ICCT’s outreach efforts in Japan, where he previously lived for five years.  He holds a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota at Morris and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering and Science from Stanford University.