No fewer than 100 European airports are to be carbon neutral by 2030, according to the planning of the European branch of Airports Council International (ACI Europe).
The council this week doubled its carbon neutrality target for 2030 in support of the central goal of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, which is to hold the global average temperature rise to as close as possible to 1.5°C.
Carbon emissions generated by airport operations account for up to 5% of total emissions from the aviation sector, and engagement of the airport industry is said to be key to achieving the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. According to experts, the aviation industry has a major interest in preventing more extreme weather from climate change, as more storms, heatwaves and turbulence will directly affect air travel.
“Europe’s airports are fully behind the objective of keeping the global average temperature rise well below 2°C and aiming to reach 1.5°C. For its part, the airport industry has already moved from words to actions a while ago, through the independent carbon management programme, Airport Carbon Accreditation,” said Augustin de Romanet, President of ACI Europe and President/CEO of Groupe ADP.
ACI Europe made an original pledge to make 50 European airports carbon neutral by 2030 at the UN Climate Change Conference in France in 2015, where the Paris Agreement was clinched.
On the decision to ramp up his association’s pledge, Augustin de Romanet said: “We thought we could do even better. We thought that we needed to do better. So I am extremely proud today to announce that we are doubling our commitment.”
Already 27 Carbon Neutral Airports in Europe
The carbon neutral status of airports is certified by the independent carbon management programme Airport Carbon Accreditation under Airports Council International, which supports airports in measuring, reporting and reducing their emissions. ACI is in turn aligned with the Climate Neutral Now initiative of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which encourages voluntary climate action towards climate neutrality.
Earlier this month, the airports of Gatwick and Lyon-Saint Exupéry achieved the carbon neutrality status under Airport Carbon Accreditation, bringing the number of carbon neutral airports in Europe to 27.
Niclas Svenningsen, who heads the Climate Neutral Now initiative at the UNFCCC Secretariat in Bonn, Germany, said: “Less than two years ago here in Paris, 195 countries signed to Paris Agreement under the motto of ‘We can, We must, We will’. The announcement by ACI EUROPE about its increased climate neutral ambition is very much in the same spirit and sets a great example for other industries and sectors to follow. We at UNFCCC welcome the continued efforts of the airport industry and support all the airports that are taking action to combat climate change.”
The movement to make Europe’s airports climate neutral was pioneered by Swedavia’s Stockholm-Arlanda airport, which achieved certification as the first carbon neutral airport in the world in November 2009.
A total of 116 airports in Europe are currently working to reduce their CO2 emissions using various forms of the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme. Around 65% of European air passenger traffic goes through these airports.