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Airport carbon programme shows fall in annual overall CO2 reductions but improved efficiency of operations

Airport carbon programme shows fall in annual overall CO2 reductions but improved efficiency of operations | Airport Carbon Accreditation

Delhi Indira Ghandi International is the first carbon neutral airport in Asia-Pacific

Thu 6 Oct 2016 – Trade body Airports Council International (ACI) has reported 170 airports around the world are now participating in the industry’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme, with 26 airports, mainly in Europe, reaching the highest carbon neutrality level. Despite the growing numbers of airports taking part and others moving up the levels in the programme, the collective reduction of CO2 in 2015/16 fell to 206,090 tonnes from 212,460 tonnes in the previous year. However, momentum continues to build, reported ACI World Director General Angela Gittens at the organisation’s Annual General Assembly last week. The event was also marked by the launch of the new 4.0 version of the Airport Carbon and Emissions Reporting Tool (ACERT), which has been specially designed to be compatible with all four levels of the programme.

“It’s been an incredible year for the programme, with applications to participate still increasing and new developments such as the important partnership with the UNFCCC and its Climate Neutral Now initiative signed at the COP21 climate negotiations,” said Gittens.

“As of this week, we now have 170 airports in the programme and over 36% of global air passenger traffic – well over 2 billion passengers – now travel through airports certified at one of the four levels. I also particularly want to congratulate the latest airports to become carbon neutral: Nice Cote d’Azur; Dallas Fort Worth International, North America’s first carbon neutral airport; and Delhi Indira Ghandi International, the first carbon neutral airport in Asia-Pacific.

“These recent accreditations highlight that carbon neutrality is no longer just a goal shared by airports worldwide, it is becoming a tangible reality. The constant efforts of airports to move up the levels in the programme is one of the reasons for its success.”

Robert O’Meara, Communications Director for ACI Europe, which originally developed and launched the programme in 2009, attributed the drop in CO2 reductions achieved by the programme to the relative maturity of some airports’ participation. “This means the ‘low hanging fruit’ for reducing their direct emissions has gone, so as a result, the reductions they make each year may be less substantial,” he explained.

“It’s also worth bearing mind that the baseline from which reductions are calculated also changes from year to year – it is based on the average total CO2 emissions of the previous three years. That figure is also based on the overall footprint of the certified airports across the entire programme, so it also includes those at Level 1 who have mapped their CO2 emissions but not yet demonstrated a reduction.

“Most importantly, certified airports show an improving carbon efficiency of their operations. Whereas their average emissions per passenger amounted to 2.31kg of CO2 in year 6 of the programme, they dropped to 2.10kg this year, representing a reduction of 7%. This confirms an overall downward trend of emissions per passenger since the launch, while at the same time, the number of certified airports has been growing.”

The programme is independently administered and has endorsements from the UNFCCC, ICAO, UNEP, FAA and the European Commission.

“COP21 in Paris was about engaging governments at the highest level but effective climate action must also be significantly supported by a progressive private sector – sustainability is everyone’s responsibility,” said Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary. “What Airport Carbon Accreditation has achieved over the past seven years is both surprising and inspiring. There is much that other industries can learn from this and even emulate.”

The latest version of ACERT, which was developed by Transport Canada and further enhanced by ACI World and Zurich Airport, is a self-contained Excel spreadsheet that enables an airport operator to calculate its own greenhouse gas emissions inventory. It is available at no cost to airports and can be used without emissions or environmental expertise by inputting readily available operational data, says ACI. The new version also accounts for the use of biofuels in vehicles and machinery, clarifies electricity data by providing some additional information and a flow chart, and includes the calculation and results of remaining emissions after offsetting.

In accordance with feedback from users, ACI says it is currently developing an ACERT tutorial, which will be distributed to airports to both assist and encourage them to take full advantage of the tool.

Meanwhile, ACI and ICAO announced yesterday in Montreal they would enhance their cooperation efforts on environmental related initiatives. The Memorandum of Understanding signed during the ICAO 39th Assembly will see the two bodies working more closely to implement new and improved green programmes for airports worldwide. These include greater information exchange, practical guidance for best practices at airports and joint environmental workshops and training supporting the ICAO No Country Left Behind and the ACI Developing Nations Assistance programmes. In addition, a new collaboration for the development of an ACI Airport Excellence (APEX) in Environment programme will feature prominently in the intended outcomes, said the two parties.

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