European airports launch carbon accreditation scheme in a commitment to reduce carbon emissions
Wed 17 Jun 2009 – A voluntary programme to assess and recognize efforts by airports to reduce CO2 emissions within their direct control was launched yesterday at the ACI EUROPE Annual Congress in Manchester. Accounting for 26% of the passenger traffic handled in Europe, a total of 31 airports have applied to join Airport Carbon Accreditation. The programme, which has been devised by international consultancy WSP Environmental, comprises four rising levels of accreditation: Mapping, Reduction, Optimisation and Neutrality. It is hoped the step-by-step process will encourage airports to reduce their carbon emissions with the ultimate goal of carbon neutral operations.
Airport Carbon Accreditation will be administered independently by WSP Environmental and will be overseen by an advisory board of representatives from external organizations, including the European Commission, European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) and Eurocontrol. Airports joining the scheme will have to report annually and engage an independent third-party to verify their carbon footprint in accordance with ISO 14064 (Greenhouse Gas Accounting).
The requirements for the four levels of accreditation are:
Determine emissions sources within the operational boundary of the airport company
Calculate the annual carbon emissions
Compile a carbon footprint report
Engage an independent third-party to verify the carbon footprint report
All of the above, plus:
Provide evidence of effective carbon management procedures
Show that reduction targets have been achieved
All of the above, plus:
Widen the scope of carbon footprint to include third-party emissions
Engage third-parties at and around the airport
All of the above, plus:
Offset remaining emissions to achieve carbon neutral operations for all emissions over which the airport has control
ACI EUROPE says participation in the scheme will improve external perception of airports’ environmental behaviour and will demonstrate their leadership in addressing climate change, and help pre-empt adverse regulations at national and European level.
The scheme has been welcomed by WWF Europe and also by the European Commission’s DG Transport and Energy, which said: “We recognize that this is a serious initiative in which significant resources have been invested with the aim of establishing a robust scheme that is credible in environmental terms.”
Participants to a workshop held in Manchester last weekend by the Omega academic partnership, which supports industry efforts to reduce the carbon intensity of aviation through research and knowledge transfer, welcomed the Airport Carbon Accreditation scheme. The workshop, which met to discuss climate adaptation and how airports were addressing climate change, concluded that airports should continue to work towards achieving consistency, compatibility and compliance with existing and emerging national and international reporting, management and accreditation standards.
Oliver Jankovec, ACI EUROPE’s Director General, said: “Until now, there hasn’t been a common framework for mapping and reducing carbon emissions on the airport site – which is a uniquely complicated space. For ACI EUROPE, today is the culmination of two years of hard work. This is about collectively engaging the European airport community to play its part in addressing the impact of aviation on climate change, alongside the persistent efforts of airlines and other industry partners.”
With ACI EUROPE representing some 440 airports in all, the organization is clearly expecting more airports to join the 31 initial participants in Airport Carbon Accreditation, which is a voluntary scheme.
Three of the major European airport hubs are among the first entrants – Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. BAA, the operator of Europe’s biggest airport, London’s Heathrow, has not yet signed up despite being part of the working group that helped draw up the scheme.
However, Matt Gorman, Corporate Responsibility and Environment Director for BAA, said his airport group was “actively looking” at joining the scheme. “We already have a thorough carbon management programme in place. We measure and report our emissions and have targets set against them, so we would be well-placed in terms of this accreditation scheme,” he told delegates during an environmental panel session at the conference.
“There is a really important role for an organization like ACI to develop consistent and comparable reporting between airports. It would be great for us to compare emissions at Heathrow, say, against other European airports.”
Dr Rainer Schwarz, CEO of Berlin Airports, which also has not joined, said his group too was looking at participating. “It’s just a question of time.”
Robert O’Meara, a spokesman for ACI EUROPE, said he anticipated that the total would be around 50 by the end of the year. He also said that interest in the scheme had been shown by other ACI world regions.
A full list of the airports which have joined can be found at the new Airport Carbon Accreditation website.