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ICSA’s work covers all the environmental effects associated with civil aviation, but focuses in particular on the mitigation of emissions from aviation that contribute to both climate change and local air quality, and aircraft noise. Aviation contributes about 3.5% of total manmade greenhouse gas emissions, a figure that rises to 5% if the probable effects of aircraft on cloud formation are included. Moreover, ICAO estimates that at current trends the sector's CO2 emissions will quadruple by 2050, and ICSA research strongly suggests that the efficiency of new aircraft has stagnated since 1990 (click on lower right figure).  To date, there has been no global agreement on their limitation or reduction.

Air pollution can be a major issue for those who live in the vicinity of large airports, or around airports where background pollution levels are already high. Emissions from aircraft, air-side support vehicles and airport related traffic all contribute to a build up of potentially harmful concentrations of pollutants, most importantly nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulates (PM10, PM2.5, and ultrafines). Increasingly, airports in Europe and North America find themselves operating in areas where concentrations breach air quality limit values. 

Noise is the major problem for most communities living around airports and under flight paths, especially at night. Aircraft noise has been an issue ever since the introduction of the first jet aircraft, since when the benefits of progressive technological improvements have tended to be offset by the introduction of larger aircraft, more frequent movements (often at sensitive times of day) and growing community expectations.  With increasing traffic, most affected communities claim that noise remains their foremost environmental concern.

ICSA embraces a range of measures to tackle these issues, covering technological and operational improvements. Based upon current projections, options to improve environmental efficiencies will not keep pace with the growth in traffic, with absolute increases in noise and emissions expected. To ensure  stabilisation and reduction, ICSA supports policies such as equipment and fleet performance standards and the implementation of market-based measures.  Specific ICSA recommendations can be found under Resources.