(CN) - The United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization has agreed to a first-ever global standard to cap emissions from aircraft, the European Commission said Tuesday.
The agreement, reached by the organization's environmental protection committee meeting in Montreal on Monday, comes after six years of international negotiations on a cap of carbon dioxide emissions for aircraft. It next heads to the organization's 36-nation governing council for final approval.
Under the agreement, stringency of and deadlines for the standard vary by the weight and age of the aircraft. New and in-production commercial airliners must meet strict standards by 2020 - and by 2023 for aircraft still on the drawing board - both to cut emissions and incentivize fuel efficiency.
Airlines have until 2028 to find ways to cut emissions from their older planes with innovation, be it through structural aerodynamic changes or with propulsion technology.
The organization said the new emissions standards especially target larger aircraft, since planes weighing over 60 tons account for 90 percent of international aviation emissions. The world's bestselling aircraft, the Boeing 737-700, can weigh as much as 93 tons fully loaded while the Airbus A380 - the world's largest passenger airliner - clocks in at 650 tons fully loaded.
According to the commission, the agreement could save up to 650 million tons of CO2 emissions by 2040.
"This agreement is an important step to curb aviation emissions. An ambitious climate policy is an integral part of the commission's plan to create an energy union, and a priority of the new aviation strategy," transport commissioner Violeta Bulc said in a statement.
"The EU played a central role in brokering this deal, as it did at the climate change conference in Paris. I hope this will create further momentum for the creation of a global market-based measure to offset CO2 emissions from international aviation, which we hope to achieve this autumn at the International Civil Aviation Organization's general assembly."
Organization president Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu said projections that air passengers - and flights carrying them - will double by 2030 made the emissions standard a necessity.
"The goal of this process is ultimately to ensure that when the next generation of aircraft types enter service, there will be guaranteed reductions in international CO2 emissions," Aliu said. "Our sector presently accounts for under 2 percent of the world's annual Co2 emissions, but we also recognize that the projected doubling of global passengers and flights by 2030 must be managed responsibly and sustainably."
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