Annex 16 – Environmental Protection


Developed by ICAO, the International Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS) contained in the nineteen Technical Annexes to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (also called Chicago Convention) are applied universally and produce a high degree of technical uniformity which has enabled international civil aviation to develop in a safe, orderly and efficient manner.


The necessity to write provisions covering the negative sides of civil aviation became a serious concern in the early 1960s with the introduction of the first generation of jet aircraft and the acceleration of their use in international flights. In November 1966, the international conference on the reduction of noise and disturbance caused by civil aircraft (also known as the London Noise Conference) was held with the objective of reaching international solution through the machinery of ICAO. The following year, the Fifth Air Navigation Conference of ICAO held at Montreal in November 1967 made certain recommendations on the subject. Based upon these recommendations, the 16th Session of the ICAO Assembly, held in September 1968 in Buenos Aires, adopted Resolution A16-3 calling for an international conference to consider the problem of aircraft noise in the vicinity of airports and seeking to establish international specifications and guidance material relating to aircraft noise.


Annex 16

Environmental Protection

A Special Meeting on Aircraft Noise in the vicinity of aerodromes was held in Montréal from 25 November to 17 December 1969 with a view to prepare news standards related to aircraft noise. A draft Annex 16 on aircraft noise, arising from the work done by this Special Meeting, was processed. The Council formed the Committee on Aircraft Noise (CAN), to examine aircraft noise certification problems; this Committee held its first meeting from 28 September to 2 October 1970. The first SARPS of Annex 16 - Aircraft Noise were adopted by the ICAO Council on 2 April 1971, became effective on 2 August 1971, and applicable on 6 January 1972.

Resolution A18-11 adopted by the 18th Session of ICAO Assembly held in Vienna in 1971 led to specific action on the question of engine emissions and detailed proposals for ICAO Standards for the control of engine emissions from certain types of aircraft engines. This resolution placed on ICAO the responsibility to guide the development of international civil aviation in such a manner as to benefit the people of the world and to achieve maximum compatibility between the safe and orderly development of civil aviation and the quality of the human environment.

The Aircraft Engine Emissions Study Group was established in 1973 as part of the ICAO Action Programme Regarding the Environment.  The Committee on Aircraft Engine Emissions (CAEE) was subsequently established in 1977 by the ICAO Council with a view to develop specific Standards for aircraft engine emissions; these Standards, adopted in 1981, set limits for the emission of smoke and certain gaseous pollutants for large turbo-jet and turbofan engines to be produced in the future; they also prohibit the venting of raw fuels. The scope of the existing Annex 16 was thus widened to include engine emission provisions and the document was re-titled Environmental Protection. Volume I of the reorganized Annex 16 contains provisions related to Aircraft Noise, while Volume II contains provisions related to Aircraft Engine Emissions. ICAO also developed several guidance manuals on noise and emissions.

In 1983, the two above-mentioned Committees were amalgamated to form the Committee on Aviation Environment Protection (CAEP), as a Technical Committee of the ICAO Council (the only technical committee of the Council). Since its establishment, CAEP has further developed the Standards in Annex 16 for both aircraft noise and engine emissions. In 2013, CAEP was composed of 23 Members from all regions of the world and 15 Observers (5 States and 10 Organizations); moreover, approximately 600 internationally renowned experts are involved in CAEP’s activities.


In 2010, Delegates to the 37th Session of ICAO Assembly adopted an unprecedented and historic global commitment on international aviation and climate change for a collective action among countries around the world —developed and developing— to limit and reduce carbon emissions from international aviation. ICAO recognized that further work is necessary to define the path forward on implementation. The resolution on the environment makes ICAO the first United Nations Agency to lead a sector in the establishment of a globally harmonized agreement for addressing its CO2 emissions.


Further to the COP21 (Conference of the Parties No. 21, United Nations Conference on Climate Change) held in Paris from 30 November to 12 December 2015, the Council President, Dr. Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu stressed the fact that international aviation was not covered under the final agreement; he considered this to be a vote of confidence in the progress ICAO and the aviation community have achieved thus far, and in the ambitious aspirational goals for the coming decades.


At its 10th meeting (CAEP/10, held in Montréal, Canada from 1 to 12 February 2016), the ICAO Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) recorded significant progress in a number of critical areas, including recommendations for a global aircraft CO2 design standard and for an aircraft engine non-volatile particulate matter (nvPM) standard. It was the first time in its history that the CAEP recommended two standards in one meeting, paving the way for cleaner aircraft that have less impact on the environment. This historic achievement demonstrated ICAO’s leadership in setting environmental standards for global aviation.


On 6 March 2017, the 36-State ICAO Council has adopted a new aircraft CO2 emissions standard which will reduce the impact of aviation greenhouse gas emissions on the global climate. Alongside the ICAO 39th Assembly’s landmark agreement in October 2016 on the new Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), this latest CO2 standard for aircraft confirms the air transport sector’s leadership and concrete actions toward ensuring a sustainable end environmentally responsible future for global civil aviation. Contained in a new Volume III to Annex 16 of the Chicago Convention, the aircraft CO2 emissions measure represents the world’s first global design certification standard governing CO2 emissions for any industry sector. The Standard shall apply to new aircraft type designs from 2020, and to aircraft type designs already in-production as of 2023. Those in-production aircraft which by 2028 do not meet the standard will no longer be able to be produced unless their designs are sufficiently modified.


During its 214st Session in June 2018, the ICAO Council made important headway on the key international standards supporting the UN aviation agency’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or CORSIA. Its adoption of the First Edition of Annex 16, Volume IV, to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention), came less than two years after ICAO’s Member States achieved their historic agreement on CORSIA at the Organization’s 39th Assembly, an emissions-offsetting first for any global industry sector. Also approved at the Council’s meeting was the 2018 version of the ICAO CORSIA CO2 Estimation and Reporting Tool (CERT), which provides a simplified tool for small operators to monitor and report their CO2 emissions, and further agreement was achieved around the specifics for a CORSIA Central Registry (CCR). The adoption of CORSIA SARPs complements other elements in the basket of measures including the enhancement of air navigation efficiency, the adopted aircraft CO2 certification standard and the long-term vision on the use of sustainable aviation fuels.


Aviation has developed in an environmentally sustainable manner, by agreeing on stringent engine emissions standards, effective operational measures and comprehensive environmental policies through the ICAO process.


37th Session of ICAO Assembly – Souvenir cover.

The text on this envelope is printed in green, referring to one of the main topics of discussion during this Session of the Assembly, i.e. the environment. On the other hand, the central part of figure 37 is designed from a selection of drawings by children submitted during the competition on the theme of Aviation in a Green Environment, held at ICAO in 2009 for the World Environment Day (WED). The theme of that year’s WED celebration was: Many Species. One Planet. One Future.. Commemorated on 5 June since 1972, WED is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations and UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) stimulate worldwide awareness of the environmental challenges, thereby enhancing political attention and action. To show its support for WED, ICAO invited children and dependants of ICAO employees and of National Delegations (ages 3 to 12) to submit drawings on the theme: Aviation in a Green Environment. The winning artist was Keely McGann (10 years old).


Drawing by Keely McGann, winning artist of the 2009 drawing contest

organized by ICAO on the theme: Aviation in a Green Environment.