ACI's global carbon management programme for airports completes its first decade
Olivier Jankovec (ACI Europe), Angela Gittens (ACI World) & Patti Chau (ACI Asia-Pacific) mark the 10th anniversary of Airport Carbon Accreditation
Fri 26 Apr 2019 – As it completes its tenth year since launch, the industry’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme now has 264 airports in over 70 countries certified at one of its four levels, reports trade body Airports Council International (ACI). Initially launched in Europe in 2009, the independently managed programme has expanded to become the global standard for airports worldwide to address their carbon footprint. It has been live in Asia-Pacific since late 2010 and 18 of the 54 airports accredited in the region were presented with their annual certificates during the recent ACI Asia-Pacific & World Annual General Assembly held in Hong Kong. The highest level of the programme aims to ensure the carbon neutrality of airport operations and ACI has released a guidance document on carbon offsetting. During the Assembly, Green Airports Recognition 2019 awards were presented to nine Asia-Pacific airports for outstanding environmental achievement.
“The global airport industry is committed to reducing its carbon emissions and the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme was launched to empower airport operators with a detailed, multi-step path to carbon neutrality. We are delighted that the programme quickly gathered global momentum, which is a reflection of how airport operators think local and global,” commented ACI World Director General Angela Gittens.
To reduce their carbon emissions, airport operators need to consider the full extent of the emissions sources under their direct control, with investment in, for example, energy efficient lighting, heating, switching to hybrid or electric ground vehicles, onsite renewables, energy management tools and employee behavioural change. At the two highest levels of the programme, operators must engage with other stakeholders on the airport site, says ACI, with initiatives such as Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM), support to lowering airline-associated carbon emissions through Continuous Descent Operations and Time-Based Separation, and offering cleaner transport solutions to passengers travelling to and from the airport.
“Running an airport is a complex business and airport operators are one piece of this puzzle with many stakeholders on the airport site,” said Gittens. “Working relationships need to be fostered and maintained and airport operators are addressing their direct carbon emissions, but also engaging partners to address theirs.”
Carbon neutral airports have to provide evidence of undertaking all the actions required by the programme – mapping their emissions, reducing them and engaging others on the site – before investing in carbon offsets. ACI reports that the 44 airports certified as carbon neutral during the year to May 2018 (programme year 9) offset 672,000 tonnes of CO2 in residual emissions. The number of carbon neutral airports in the programme has since risen to 49 worldwide.
The newly-published offsetting guidance document is aimed at helping airports select high quality offsets. The document is based on an offsetting study for airports carried out by Ecofys and completed last year. It included the identification of key offsetting quality criteria and the assessment of offset programmes against them. Based on the assessment, a proposed list of eligible offset programmes was established and offset project types were attributed different degrees of confidence in their compliance with the quality criteria. The study was reviewed and the guidance document agreed by the Airport Carbon Accreditation Task Force and Advisory Board. Offset programmes approved include the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism, Verified Carbon Standard, Gold Standard, Climate Action Reserve and American Carbon Registry.
Airport Carbon Accreditation is administered by consultancy WSP and overseen by its Advisory Board that includes representatives from the UNFCCC, ICAO, the European Commission, ECAC, Eurocontrol and Manchester Metropolitan University.
“In terms of pure scale, climate change is a daunting challenge – people’s reactions range from intense anxiety to jaded cynicism. The best response is to try to do something about it – starting by taking responsibility for what you control, for what you deal with,” said Niclas Svenningsen, who heads UNFCCC’s Climate Neutral Now initiative.
“For this reason, I congratulate ACI on a decade of Airport Carbon Accreditation. It is an inspiring example of an industry that proactively sought to make a positive change and now with 264 airports on board it is succeeding in doing that. I invite people to find out more about their local airport’s involvement and ambitions – mobility is a fundamental part of life, so let’s try to make it as efficient and ecological as possible.”
The Green Airports Recognition was established by ACI Asia-Pacific to promote environmental best practice in the region and recognise members that are minimising their environmental impacts. Understanding that airports have different priorities in their development programmes, each year a new theme of environmental recognition is chosen, which this year was airport infrastructure.
Recognition in the over 45 million passengers per year category went to New Delhi Indira Gandhi International (platinum), Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International (gold) and Hong Kong International (silver). The 10-45 million pax/yr category recognitions went to Taipei Taoyuan International (platinum), Sydney (gold) and Hyderabad Rajiv Gandhi International (silver). Adelaide (platinum), Abu Dhabi Al Bateen Executive (gold) and Fiji’s Nadi International (silver) were recognised in the under 10 million pax/yr category.
During the ACI Assembly, senior representatives from the Royal Schiphol Group, Kenya Airports Authority and Galapagos Airport committed to combatting wildlife trafficking by signing the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce Buckingham Palace Declaration. The agreement sets out tangible steps that can be taken to close the routes exploited by traffickers of the illegal wildlife trade as they attempt to move their products from rare and vulnerable ecosystems to market.
The issue was also feature at a forum at the Assembly to help airports identify opportunities to develop a framework of action against wildlife trafficking. ACI is one of several industry partners, which also includes IATA, working with the USAID ROUTES Partnership to engage and support industry, provide training and raise awareness.
“Species are being hunted to extinction through the illegal killing and trading of wild animals. We seek to build a broad international coalition to be truly effective in combatting these deplorable practices,” said Angela Gittens. “Airports play a key role in this fight and we encourage more airports and more of our partners to collaborate with us in this important work.”
The Assembly also passed a resolution that calls for increased engagement with ICAO on policy development, capacity building and environmental protection.
“The resolution identifies target areas for advocacy, including safety, security, efficiency and environmental protection, in particular the need for aviation to develop more ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction goals to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement,” stated Gittens.
Asia-Pacific airport operators receive their Airport Carbon Accreditation certificates during the ACI Asia-Pacific & World Annual General Assembly in Hong Kong: