Manchester has become the first UK airport to achieve carbon neutral status
Tue 13 Dec 2016 – At the Paris COP21 climate summit a year ago, the European airport industry pledged to have 50 carbon neutral airports by 2030. Since then, five more airports in Europe have reached that goal, bringing the total number in Europe to 25. Manchester Airport has now joined the list and become the first UK airport to achieve carbon neutrality, and Munich Airport has just announced plans to become Germany’s first carbon neutral airport. Munich intends to spend 150 million euros ($160m) between now and 2030 on a climate protection programme that aims to reduce CO2 emissions directly attributed to the airport’s operations by 60% over the period, with the remaining 40% taking the form of carbon offsets. Outside Europe, Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International has become the second Asia-Pacific region airport to achieve carbon neutral status.
First launched by ACI Europe and now rolled out across all international regions of the trade association, the sector’s CO2 management programme, Airport Carbon Accreditation, has four levels of stringency. The highest Levels 3 and 3+, in addition to requiring a reduction in the airport’s own emissions, also require airports to monitor emissions from third party operations – including aircraft on the ground – and to work with business partners to reduce their emissions too.
Level 3+ Neutrality requires those emissions that cannot be reduced by the airport’s own efforts to be offset using internationally recognised credits such as Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), Emissions Reduction Units (ERUs), Verified Emission Reductions (VERs) and European Union Allowances (EUAs). Airports achieving carbon neutrality are entitled to use the UN’s Climate Neutral Now logo.
Congratulating Manchester Airport on its achievement, ACI Europe’s Director General, Olivier Jankovec, said: “Becoming carbon neutral is no small feat and serves as a timely reminder of how much work Manchester Airport has put into achieving this goal. They were one of the airports that participated in the pilot phase of the programme and they have worked their way up through the four levels over the intervening years – we actually launched Airport Carbon Accreditation here in Manchester at our Annual Congress in 2009. So it really is a red-letter day for Manchester Airport, for the programme and for air transport in the UK.”
The airport purchases all of its electricity from renewable sources and has invested more than £7.5 million ($9.5m) in energy efficiency projects, working with local and national businesses to develop innovative lighting solutions. Its energy management team has now installed over 25,000 low-energy LED lights throughout the airport, including the first on any UK runway. The airport has also worked with its partners to reduce emissions from aircraft as well as passengers and staff travelling to and from the airport.
Along with the purchase of carbon offsets, the initiatives have collectively reduced emissions from the energy and fuel used to operate the terminals, runways and facilities from 72,000 tonnes CO2e in 2006 to zero in 2016.
“At Manchester Airport, we are committed to being one of the leading European airports when it comes to environmental management. We are proud of our track record,” said CEO Ken O’Toole. “As an organisation we recognise that climate change is an important global challenge. This achievement demonstrates the lengths we go to ensuring we balance our role as an economic generator, alongside caring for the environment, whilst working with our third parties to reduce the wider impact of our industry.”
Measures to achieve carbon neutrality will cover all activities at Munich Airport, specifically energy supply, efficiency improvements in building systems, vehicle fleet optimisation, exterior lighting and further improvements in electric power use of the baggage transport system. The airport says initiatives will range from intelligent control technologies to climate-optimised facades, including a switch to LED technology for runway lighting, increased reliance of renewable energy sources and greater use of electro-mobility in the airport’s vehicle fleet.
“As Europe’s first five-star airport, we also set very high standards for climate protection,” commented CEO Dr Michael Kerkloh. “With our far-reaching climate targets we want to help ensure that the airport’s operations and ongoing development are pursued in ways that preserve the opportunities and possibilities of future generations. With the goal of achieving carbon-neutral airport operations, we are paving the way to sustainable, resource-conserving air transportation.”
Other announcements concerning European airports this month have seen DAA’s Dublin and Cork airports renew at Level 2 Reduction, and Riga International at Level 1 Mapping. Having achieved the first two levels by 2013, Lyon Saint-Exupéry has now reached Level 3 Optimisation, registering a 14.65% decrease in CO2 emissions from 2012 to 2015.
The airport says it has brought the majority of its partners into the emissions reduction process, creating a ‘Carbon Club’ in 2015. More than 20 companies, representing half of the 5,800 employees on the site, have collaborated to extend the data collection on CO2 emissions. This includes employee travel, energy usage and aircraft take-off, landing and taxiing. Further work will be undertaken to extend the widespread use of electric vehicles and the optimisation of aircraft movements before take-off.
“Only 21 other European airports have reached Level 3 of the programme. We would like to congratulate Lyon Airports for stepping up its approach and looking further than their own CO2 emissions by reaching out to companies and partners present on the Lyon Saint-Exupéry site to get involved in the management of their emissions,” said Jankovec.
Last week, Rajiv Gandhi Hyderabad International followed Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International as the Asia-Pacific region’s second airport to become carbon neutral.
“This status is a significant achievement for Hyderabad Airport and is the outcome of our sustained efforts towards the environment,” said SGK Kishore, CEO of GMR Hyderabad International Airport (GHIAL). “These efforts include proactive energy conservation measures, generation of solar renewable energy, carbon sinking through extensive greenbelt and various other environmental protection measures, with the active support of the airport’s stakeholders.
“Through this, GHIAL has demonstrated its commitment to support the government of India’s resolution on the nation’s carbon footprint and its obligation under the UNFCCC COP21 global climate agreement.”
Unlike with international aviation, emissions from airports are covered by national efforts under the Paris Agreement.
The two Indian airports join Dallas Fort-Worth, which achieved the carbon neutrality in August (see article) as the only airports outside Europe to reach the ACI carbon programme’s highest level so far.
At a ceremony held during last month’s COP22 climate summit in Marrakech, two of Morocco’s busiest airports, Marrakech-Menara and Casablanca Mohammed V International, operated by ONDA, became certified at Level 1 Mapping.
“We are delighted to see the airports enter Airport Carbon Accreditation – it is great to welcome airports from Morocco into the programme, especially while the country is hosting the COP,” commented Ali Tounsi, Regional Director of ACI Africa during the summit. “It is always good to see new entrants embarking on the journey of better carbon management and we will continue doing everything we can to support them, through the knowledge exchange that comes with being part of this programme – the airport industry’s collective effort to lower its contribution to climate change. This is all the more important as airport climate action also supports the achievement of several UN Sustainable Development Goals, which are of key importance to Africa.”
Niclas Svenningsen, who heads the Climate Neutral Now initiative at the UNFCCC Secretariat, said: “We are very encouraged to see these two airports embark on a strategy to reduce their carbon emissions. Their proactivity underlines how better carbon management can gain ground here in Africa, in parallel to advancing in other parts of the world.”
Further afield, Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) was last week certified under the programme at Level 3 Optimisation. Measures by the airport and third parties taken at Montréal-Trudeau include the use of more energy-efficient equipment by airlines, such as pre-conditioned air and ground power units; the ‘greening’ of half the taxi fleet; the addition of charging stations for electric vehicles; the introduction of the Téo electric-taxi service; and the setting up of CellParc, a waiting area for motorists with cellphones coming to the airport to pick up passengers. Other initiatives include environmental awareness campaigns with airport employees and the Écono-Écolo-Pratique programme designed to increase the use of public transit. The airport has also received two other local environmental awards.
“I am extremely proud of these marks of recognition, since they result from an environmental management plan that we have been implementing for several years,” said James Cherry, CEO of ADM. “It’s remarkable. Montréal-Trudeau, the first Canadian airport to obtain GHG emissions-reduction accreditation, is now the fourth in North America to earn certification at the Optimisation level.”
Opened in April 2014, Qatar’s Hamad International (HIA) is unique in having its carbon emissions certified under the ACA programme since it started operations. Although at the first Mapping level, the airport says it has ambitious plans to progress to the higher accreditation levels and become a world-leading airport in climate change management. It has a long-term target to improve carbon efficiency by 30% by 2030, against a 2015 baseline, along with a series of initiatives to help save energy and optimise the consumption of vehicle fuel.
According to its annual carbon footprint report, independently verified by VerifAvia, HIA has already achieved a 4% improvement in carbon emissions per passenger in 2015 compared to 2014, with the ambition to reduce the 2015 baseline of 5.6kgs CO2 per passenger to fewer than 4.0kgs by 2030. A new Energy Working Group has been created to help deliver the target. The group comprises a team of electrical, engineering and environmental technical specialists with the remit to identify and progress energy-saving initiatives across the whole airport campus. New projects that have been implemented include modifications to lighting, heating, ventilation and cooling systems that, when combined, could save up to 4462.6 MWh per year.
Plans are in place to replace the existing high pressure sodium apron flood lights and metal halide light fittings in the airport’s passenger terminal transfer area with LEDs. Another example includes the installation of ‘speed doors’ at vehicular entrances to airport buildings, such as baggage handling areas. These doors help to contain cooled air within the building, reducing the energy burden on cooling systems.
HIA says it recognises achieving its ambitious carbon target will depend on energy efficiency being built into the design of future airport development. Plans for a major extension of the airport terminal include consideration of certification to the silver level of the LEED international green building scheme, and will include over 11,000 metres of photovoltaic cells forecast to generate up to 2,885 MWh of energy per year.
To drive continual improvement in the efficiency of over 2,000 vehicles operating airside, a new Airport Vehicle Programme has been established. This brings together businesses operating airport vehicles within the airport boundary, and is focused initially on developing systems to improve the measurement of vehicle fuel consumption and efficiency.
“At HIA, we believe in our environmental responsibility and are committed to tackling climate change as a core component of our business strategy,” said HIA COO Engr. Mohammed Al Meer. “It is in our best interest to develop a sustainable future for our airport by effectively managing the environmental impacts of our operations.”
The ACI carbon programme now has 173 airports worldwide currently certified, which are responsible for 36.4% of passengers globally.
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