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Mobility and Transport


The main environmental effects of aviation are those of aircraft noise and aircraft emissions. The former largely affects areas at and around airports, the latter can have both local effects on air quality and global effects on climate.

The main environmental effects of aviation are those of aircraft noise and aircraft emissions. The former largely affects areas at and around airports, the latter can have both local effects on air quality and global effects on climate.

The EU Aviation Strategy aims to improve the environmental impact of aviation

Aviation needs to develop in a sustainable way of reducing its environmental footprint and contributing to the fight against climate change.

In this respect, a number of actions are being taken:

  • Publication of "European Aviation Environmental Report" tracking the environmental performance of the EU's air transport sector.
  • Working with the ICAO to develop a Global Market Based Mechanism (GMBM) to address CO2 emissions.
  • Supporting Research & Development actions for innovative "green" technologies.
  • Completing the Single European Sky. Performance of ATM must be improved in terms of environmental objectives (including noise reduction and emissions) and regulatory work to tackle this is ongoing.
  • Mandates for bilateral and comprehensive aviation agreements with key foreign partners of the EU, which should help promote green policies with respect to aviation worldwide.

EU mechanisms to reduce emissions

International aviation emissions are growing fast and need to be tackled to achieve the internationally agreed target. Thus, a comprehensive approach is needed. The EU is taking action in three areas, namely (1) R&D for “greener” technology, (2) modernised air traffic management systems and (3) market-based measures.

  1. High priority was given to "the greening of air transport" in the 7th Framework Programme for RTD. The flagship will be the "Clean Sky" Joint Technology Initiative. By 2020, the aim is to reduce fuel consumption and hence CO2 emissions by 50 % per passenger kilometre, to reduce NOx emissions by 80 % (in landing and take-off according to ICAO standards) and to reduce unburnt hydrocarbons and CO emissions by 50 %, alongside pursuing significant noise reductions. The 7th Framework Programme has been substituted by Horizon 2020, a six-year plan (2014-2020), for which the motto is “Smart, Green and Integrated Transport”. In the line of the former programme, it will encourage resource-efficient transport that respects the environment by making aircraft cleaner and quieter to minimise transport systems’ impact on climate and the environment, by developing smart equipment, infrastructures and services.
  2. The Single European Sky (SES) legislation reforms the way air traffic management is organised in Europe. This requires a modernisation of air traffic management (ATM) systems in Europe. The SESAR initiative is the technological component of SES and one of the objectives is to reduce emissions by 10 % per flight.
  3. Aviation is included in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) by Directive 2008/101/EC , in line with the International Civil Aviation Organization´s (ICAO) resolution A35-5 on incorporating international aviation into existing trading schemes. However, for the period 2013-2016, the legislation has been amended so that only emissions from flights within the EEA fall under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).

    The EU made this change following an agreement by the ICAO Assembly in October 2013 to develop a global market-based mechanism addressing international aviation emissions by 2016 and applicable from 2020. The EU welcomes the commitment from the ICAO to promote and develop a comprehensive framework for limiting or reducing aviation emissions from international aviation. In this respect, the EU supports the ICAO with regard to development of global market-based measures (GMBMs) for international aviation. The design and implementation are still under negotiation.


Regulation (EU) No 421/2014 amending Directive 2003/87/EC establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community, in view of the implementation by 2020 of an international agreement applying a single global market-based measure to international aviation emissions

Directive 2008/101/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 amending Directive 2003/87/EC so as to include aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community

Directive 2002/49/EC relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise

Regulation (EU) No 598/2014 on the establishment of rules and procedures with regard to the introduction of noise-related operating restrictions at Union airports within a Balanced Approach and repealing Directive 2002/30/EC

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