Government Affairs U.N. sets emissions standards for commercial airlines By Robert Silk / February 09, 2016 Share 1 -- A United Nations committee has agreed on the first carbon dioxide emissions standards for commercial aircraft.The standards, approved by the 23-nation committee on Feb. 8 at the U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) meeting in Montreal, must still get final approval by the ICAO governing council later this year. They would apply to new aircraft types beginning in 2020. Application of the standards on existing aircraft would be phased in from 2023 to 2028. The standards would apply to all sizes and types of planes currently used in international aviation, though smaller craft would face less stringent rules.The White House heralded the agreement, saying in a statement that the proposed standards would reduce carbon emissions by more than 650 million tons between 2020 and 2040, the equivalent of removing 140 million cars from the road for a year.The trade group Airline for America (A4A) also extolled the deal."Our industry already has a tremendous record of fuel efficiency improvements and emissions savings, and we are committed to continuing that trend," said Nancy Young, A4A vice president, environmental affairs. "These ambitious new standards put forth by ICAO's Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection will assist us in meeting that commitment."But the agreement was greeted with less enthusiasm by the Transport & Environment (T&E), an umbrella organization of approximately 50 advocacy groups in Europe. T&E released a statement saying that negotiators fell victim to commercial pressures and that the deal likely signals business as usual for Airbus and Boeing through 2028."Market forces alone would have required a better fuel performance than the standard specifies by the time the first new types fly in 2024," T&E said.The aircraft emissions agreement comes after six years of negotiations. It follows the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, hammered out in December by more than 190 countries.