Thu 21 June 2018 – Four airports – Brussels, London Stansted, Rome Ciampino and Treviso – have joined 30 other European airports as carbon neutral certified under the airport industry’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme. The highest of four levels in the programme, to reach neutrality airports have to reduce emissions under their direct control as much as possible and offset the remaining residual emissions. The industry trade association ACI Europe has set a target of having 100 carbon neutral airports in Europe by 2030. At its annual Best Airport Awards this week, carbon neutral Amsterdam Schiphol won the Eco-Innovation Award for its outstanding environmental performance and innovative approaches to environmental management. At ACI Europe’s annual meeting in Brussels, Dr Michael Kerkloh, its President and also CEO of Munich Airport, said sustainability was the next frontier in the industry’s evolution.
According to ACI Europe Director General Olivier Jankovec, there are now 133 European airports in the carbon programme, which was launched in June 2009 by ACI Europe and has now been extended to all ACI world regions, with 237 airports in 66 countries participating. Those accredited in Europe were responsible for 65% of European air passenger traffic and in the year June 2017 to May 2018 collectively managed to cut CO2 emissions under their direct control (Scope 1 and 2) by 163,277 tonnes, a reduction of 7.6%.
The four levels of accreditation start with Mapping (Level 1), in which an airport first measures its carbon footprint, progressing on to Reduction of the airport operator’s carbon footprint (Level 2) and then engaging others on the airport site to reduce their CO2 (Level 3 Optimisation) before reaching Neutrality (Level 3+).
The programme is independently administered by engineering and environmental consultancy WSP and overseen by an independent advisory board of representatives from the UNFCCC, ICAO, UNEP, the European Commission, ECAC (European Civil Aviation Conference), Eurocontrol and Manchester Metropolitan University.
“At the UNFCCC, we regularly underline that genuine progress on climate action relies on a proactive approach by industry and society at large, not just governments,” commented Niclas Svenningsen of the UNFCCC’s Secretariat and who heads the Climate Neutral Now initiative. “Airports are one part of the air transport supply chain, but their example is powerful. I congratulate the newly certified carbon neutral airports and urge others to consider what they can do to be the next ones.”
Having joined the programme at the start, Brussels Airport had held Level 3 accreditation since 2012 before now moving to the highest level.
“Brussels Airport has been working for years to limit its impact on the environment. This forms part of our long-term vision of further developing the airport in a sustainable way,” said Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport Company. “Each and every business activity, project and management decision is tested against its impact on the environment. This conscious global approach has enabled the airport to reduce its carbon footprint year-on-year. Our target is to emit 40% less CO2 by 2030. Last year, we achieved a reduction of 34% in comparison to 2010. We are therefore well on our way to achieving our target.”
London Stansted, named by ACI Europe as being in the top five of the fastest growing large European airports, joins other MAG (Manchester Airports Group) airports Manchester and East Midlands in becoming carbon neutral. MAG becomes the UK’s first carbon neutral airport group. Rome Ciampino joins Rome Fiumicino to become the second carbon neutral airport operated by Aeroporti di Roma.
In awarding Amsterdam Schiphol its Eco-Innovation prize, the judges noted that in addition to its already-reached carbon neutral status, the airport is also aiming to achieve climate neutrality for aircraft emissions up to 3,000 feet. The airport was also recognised for its implementation of circular economy principles and the use of renewable energy.
Over the past year, Schiphol has laid claim to operating the largest electrical bus fleet in Europe at and around the airport, introduced the first wind turbines providing power totalling 20 GWh for the Royal Schiphol Group, installed sustainable heating and cooling at a number of piers and built a sustainably constructed morgue.
Ceremonies to make the airport awards and present the four carbon neutral airports with their accreditation took place at this year’s ACI Europe & World Annual General Assembly in Brussels this week. The President of ACI Europe and CEO of Munich Airport, Dr Michael Kerkloh, told the conference that Europe’s airports saw sustainability as the number one challenge for the future of aviation.
“By facilitating air connectivity for their communities, airports have a clear social mandate,” he said. “But beyond all the macro-level figures about the economic benefits of aviation, we must provide a satisfactory answer to our citizens when they ask this simple question: ‘What’s in it for me?’. For that, we must reinforce, prove and better articulate our wider societal value.”
He said the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme had shown the power of collective action by airports had delivered tangible results. To build on the achievement, Kerkloh said a broader vision of sustainability was now needed.
“This means that we need to go beyond environmental protection and CSR and also put sustainability in its socio-economic dimension at the core of our business strategy,” he said. “This is about increasing our outreach and contribution to our local communities, but also leveraging the function of airports as multi-purpose facilities and living spaces. For that, the Board of ACI Europe has mandated our organisation to develop, within a year, a comprehensive sustainability strategy for the airport industry. This will include looking at establishing a set of sustainability metrics for airports. This is an ambitious goal, and I really look forward to making sure we deliver by June 2019.
“Sustainability is the next frontier in our business evolution.”
Airport representatives receive their Airport Carbon Accreditation certificates at the ACI Europe & World Annual General Assembly (photo: ACI Europe):
Video – Brussels Airport: A Carbon Neutral Airport
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