Airports industry partners with UNFCCC on climate action and efforts to increase carbon neutrality
(photo: Aéroports de Paris)
Wed 9 Dec 2015 – During the current global climate negotiations in Paris, the airport industry has agreed a partnership with the UNFCCC and also pledged to increase the number of carbon neutral airports. At a COP21 side event, industry trade association Airports Council International (ACI) committed to supporting the UNFCCC’s Climate Neutral Now campaign, while the UN climate change body will support airport climate action, in particular the sector's Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) programme. The voluntary airport carbon standard, first launched by ACI Europe in June 2009 and now extended worldwide, is aimed at encouraging airports to map, manage and reduce their emissions, with the ultimate goal of becoming carbon neutral. During the COP, the European airport industry committed to increasing the number of carbon neutral airports to 50 by 2030.
Under the ACI/UNFCCC partnership, the two organisations will develop a common work programme and communications plan promoting airport carbon neutrality. ACA certifies airports at four different levels – Mapping, Reduction, Optimisation and Neutrality – and the agreement aims to increase the number of airports progressing to Level 3 (Optimisation) and Level 3+ (Neutrality). ACA status has so far been achieved by a total of 137 airports worldwide, representing 31% of global passenger traffic throughput.
ACA is independently administered and overseen by an advisory board that includes representatives from ICAO, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the European Commission and other regulatory, academic and civil society bodies. The UNFCCC will join the board to provide input into the strategy and future orientation of the programme.
“This a very big moment for ACI and Airport Carbon Accreditation,” Angela Gittens, ACI World Director General, and Olivier Jankovec, ACI Europe Director General, said in a joint statement. “To gain the support of an organisation as authoritative as the UNFCCC is something we consider a major achievement and a genuine recognition of the airport industry to the climate action through ACA.”
John Kilani, Director of the UNFCCC’s Sustainable Development Mechanisms programme, said other industries could learn from ACI’s carbon programme. “It is immensely encouraging to see an industry as visible and strategically relevant as the airport industry being so proactive on climate action,” he commented. “We count on their support for our Climate Neutral Now campaign.”
There are currently 20 carbon neutral airports, all of which are in Europe and include all 10 airports operated by Swedavia in Sweden, Avinor’s Oslo and Trondheim airports in Norway, Amsterdam Schiphol and Eindhoven in the Netherlands, plus others in Italy and Turkey. At another event organised by the UNFCCC and the International Carbon Reduction & Offset Alliance at COP21, ACI Europe pledged to increase the number to 50 airports by 2030. At present, there are 93 airports in Europe that are certified at one of the ACA levels.
“Europe’s airports are fully behind the objective of keeping global warming below 2ᵒC, and they are urging States to come to a global, robust and legally-binding agreement in Paris” stated Augustin de Romanet, President of ACI Europe and CEO of Aéroports de Paris. “For its part, the airport industry has already moved from words to actions a while ago. Our commitment to increase the number of carbon-neutral airports to 50 by 2030 reflects both our resolve and our ambition to do more.”
He added climate change posed a significant risk to the airport industry. “Changes in rainfall, temperature variations, sea-level rise and changes in wind patterns all have potentially severe implications for our industry, for the wider air transport sector and for European connectivity,” he said.