With 102 airports on four continents, airport carbon programme looks to expand geographical reach
Wed 25 Jun 2014 – Five years after its launch by European airports trade body ACI Europe, over 100 airports across four continents have now been certified under the Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) programme. Endorsed by UN agencies ICAO and UNEP, along with the European Commission and Eurocontrol, the programme independently assesses and recognises airports’ efforts to manage and reduce their CO2 emissions. It certifies airports at four different levels of accreditation, with 16 European airports now achieving the highest carbon neutrality level. ACI Europe says all the airports now certified collectively handle 23.6 per cent of global air passenger traffic, with the 85 European airports certified handling 62.8 per cent of the continent’s passenger traffic.
The association says the 102 airports achieved a net reduction of 133,599 tonnes of CO2 from emissions under their direct control (GHG Protocol Scope 1 and 2 emissions) in the past year (2013/14). Across the 85 European airports accredited, the average carbon footprint per passenger was 2.01kg CO2, compared with 2.75kg CO2 for the 75 airports in the programme the previous year.
In relative terms, the Scope 1 and 2 emissions reduction per passenger amounted to 0.26kg CO2 for all airports certified in the programme and 0.23kg CO2 for airports certified at Level 2 and above. For Scope 3 emissions – those from activities which the airport does not directly manage, but which it may guide or influence – reductions of 0.96kg CO2 were achieved per passenger for airports certified at Level 3 and Level 3+.
For Scope 1 and 2 emissions, an average 5.98% reduction in CO2 was achieved across all European airports in the programme last year.
Achieving carbon neutrality – Level 3+ of the programme – requires airports to purchase internationally recognised carbon offsets for those Scope 1 and 2 emissions they are unable to eliminate. The 16 airports accredited at this level last year between them offset 181,496 tonnes of CO2, compared with 66,724 tonnes the previous year.
“Airports are moving up through the levels of the programme, becoming more efficient, less polluting and engaging partners to collaborate on this as well. An increase in terminal square metres or passengers no longer has to mean an increase in CO2 emitted,” said Olivier Jankovec, ACI Europe’s Director General, at the association’s recent annual congress in Frankfurt.
“We’re five years into this, with real momentum. We will keep going – seeking new efficiencies and innovation to reduce the airport industry’s carbon footprint and also expanding the geographical reach of the programme.”
The four accreditation levels are Mapping, Reduction, Optimisation and Neutrality. A recent addition to the programme is Australia’s Sydney Airport, which has been accredited at the first Mapping level, in which the airport determines emissions sources within its operational boundary, calculates its annual carbon emissions and compiles a carbon footprint report, which then has to be independently verified.
“We have mapped our carbon footprint and are now working to reduce our carbon emissions,” reported Sydney Airport CEO Kerrie Mather. “We’ve developed a five-year environment strategy and an energy savings plan to identify new energy saving, greenhouse gas emission reduction and energy efficiency opportunities.
“Some of our recent environmental initiatives include installing new energy efficient lighting at various locations, saving water through our water recycling plant, offsetting vehicle fleet carbon emissions by planting trees and investing to facilitate cleaner, next-generation aircraft. We also work collectively with the broader aviation community to reduce environmental impacts, while continuing to provide global air connectivity.
“Not only do these measures lead to improved environmental outcomes, they also drive innovation and increase efficiency across the airport.”
Other airports that have received accreditation recently include Copenhagen (Level 3 Optimisation), Bergen (Level 2 Reduction) and London Stansted (Level 2 Reduction).
“Carbon accreditation is tangible proof that we’re on the right course in our environment and climate efforts, and that we aim to have an open and transparent approach in our efforts to reduce our CO2 emissions,” said Thomas Woldbye, CEO of Copenhagen Airport.
“We have defined a target that will see us reduce our CO2 emissions from 1.4kg to 1.0kg per passenger by 2020. In addition, we are also working to build environmental awareness at other companies operating at the airport. One example is our policy to phase in green equipment on the airport aprons, where several hundred people work every day. In fact, improving the working environment at the airport has become a common goal for all.”
In May, the CO2 accreditation programme was commended by the International Transport Forum, an inter-governmental organisation within the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development), at its annual summit in Leipzig, attended by government ministers from 54 countries. ACA was named as one of two runner-ups for the ITF’s Transport Achievement Award.
“The jury commends Airport Carbon Accreditation as a robust programme that clearly demonstrates widespread and progressive promotion of good practice, and we want to acknowledge the success of the initiative in empowering airports across the globe to reduce their carbon emissions,” said José Viegas, ITF Secretary General.
The Airport Carbon Accreditation Annual report just published reveals plans to extend the programme to the Latin America region as well as promote it to all ACI member regions. Another aim is to encourage those ICAO member countries developing State Action Plans to tackle aviation’s impact on climate change to include ACA in their list of proposed actions.