Airport carbon scheme enters seventh year with global ambitions and 125 airports accredited
Fri 14 Aug 2015 – The industry’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme now includes 125 airports in 40 countries as it extends its reach globally, reveals the sixth annual report published by trade body Airports Council International (ACI). First started by ACI’s European region in June 2009, the programme has been taken up during the past year by North America so that all ACI regions now have airports reporting and taking steps to reduce carbon emissions. ACI says around 1.7 billion passengers, representing 27.5% of global air passenger traffic, now pass through airports accredited under the programme, which certifies those airports at one of four different levels covering all stages of carbon management. Key facts and figures from the annual report are featured in a newly-launched microsite that also includes an award-winning animation video.
During the June 2014 to June 2015 reporting year, 24 airports managed by 20 airport operators became accredited for the first time, with one airport, London Gatwick, re-entering the programme and two airports, Hyderabad and Cologne-Bonn, leaving.
Airports are certified at four progressively stringent levels, with the first level (Mapping) requiring airports to produce an externally verified Scope 1 and 2 (those emissions which the airport is directly or indirectly responsible for) carbon footprint for the airport, along with evidence of a publicly available environmental and carbon policy endorsed by the highest level of airport management. The carbon footprint serves as the basis for developing carbon management and engagement plans (Level 2 Reduction and Level 3 Optimisation) through which an airport commits to reduce carbon emissions year on year. Airports set their own carbon reduction targets, which may be absolute (tonnes of CO2) or relative in terms of tonnes of CO2 per passenger or traffic unit (one passenger or 100kg of cargo).
If so desired, an airport may seek to achieve carbon neutrality for the emissions under its direct control (Scopes 1 and 2) by offsetting its residual emissions which it cannot reduce by other means (Level 3+ Neutrality). To achieve this certification level, airports not only have to demonstrate they have reduced the carbon emissions under their direct control but have also engaged with their operational partners on the airport site to do the same (Scope 3).
Growth in the programme remains strong in Europe, with participation increasing from 85 to 92 airports, representing 63.9% of air passenger traffic. Currently, 20 European airports – including Stockholm Arlanda, Amsterdam Schiphol, Rome Fiumicino, Oslo and Ankara – have reached carbon neutrality status.
Since the report was published, it was announced this week that Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport has been certified at Level 1 and so becomes the first airport in Israel to be accredited.
In Asia-Pacific, the second ACI region to adopt the programme, the number of participating airports increased to 25, compared to 16 last year, representing 23.6% of the region’s passenger traffic. Six airports in North America became accredited within months of the region joining the scheme in September 2014, with all of them having mapped their carbon footprint and five actively reducing emissions.
The programme was extended to the Latin American and Caribbean region in November 2014 and one airport, Mexico’s Puerto Vallarta, has since mapped its footprint (Level 1). One airport in the Africa region, Tunisia’s Enfidah-Hammamet, has actively reduced its CO2 emissions (Level 2). To address the low take-up in the two regions, ACI is looking to overcome barriers to participation and discussions with new airports about joining have already taken place.
Overall, accredited airports reduced the CO2 emissions under their direct control (Scopes 1 and 2) by 212,460 tonnes in the reporting year, with total aggregate Scope 3 reductions amounting to 163,033 tonnes. Total emissions offset by the 20 Level 3+ airports were 294,385 tonnes. The carbon footprint per passenger was 2.26 kgCO2 and 2.00 kgCO2 per traffic unit.
Under the programme, to accurately quantify actual emission reductions achieved, emissions are compared on a like-for-like basis against a three-year rolling average of emissions. Under the terms of participation, the details of airports’ individual carbon footprints are not published in the annual report, although an airport may choose to do so itself.
The programme’s administrator, WSP Parsons-Brinckerhoff, reports there are now 129 independent verifiers in 36 countries worldwide and a new logo has been designed and made available to approved verifiers. One aim of the programme for year 7 is to fine tune verifier training to improve understanding of the programme and its verification requirements to help keep the application process cost effective.
As well as promoting it in all ACI member regions and seeking ways to remove obstacles to participation, those countries developing ICAO State Action Plans on climate change are being encouraged to include the airport carbon programme in the list of actions proposed.
ICAO, together with sister UN agency UNEP, the European Commission, Eurocontrol, ECAC and the FAA, are supporting the programme and have representatives on the independent expert Advisory Board.