Article / 28 Nov, 2019
Airports Report Growth in Climate Action

UN Climate Change News, 28 November 2019 – Collaboration between UN Climate Change and Airports Council International has helped catalyze growth in the climate action of airports, with an increase in the number of airports signing up to a key programme to reduce carbon emissions of 16% over the previous year.

The aviation sector is a significant contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, but actors within the sector are proactively addressing their impact.

Among the actions being implemented by airport operators to pursue emission reductions under their operational control are: investment in renewable energy; more energy efficient lighting & heating; switching to hybrid or electric ground vehicles and support equipment; and spurring employee behavioural change.

Carbon neutral airports take the additional step of compensating the emissions they have not been able to reduce through credible carbon offsets that support further emission reductions around the world - a process aligned with UN Climate Change’s Climate Neutral Now initiative. 

The assessment of the growth in low carbon activies of airports is based on the annual results released by the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme during the 13th edition of the Airports Council International’s (ACI) Airport Exchange, a global meeting of the industry in Abu Dhabi.

The past reporting year, running from May 2018 to May 2019, marked a decade since the programme’s inception. The year ended with 274 accredited airports worldwide, proving the stronger than ever drive of the airport industry to deliver on its commitment made in 2007 to lower its own CO2 emissions. Among these, and in collaboration with the Climate Neutral Now initiative of UN Climate Change, 61 airports achieved the carbon neutrality level.

Niclas Svenningsen, who heads Climate Neutral Now, commented: “Air connectivity is an essential part of modern society, enabling people, business and communities to function together for the benefit of all. However, this mobility also poses some serious challenges, in particular in terms of climate change. By continuing their sterling work to address their emissions through Airport Carbon Accreditation, airports worldwide are showing that mobility and sustainability do not necessarily imply trade-offs. In the wake of the Climate Emergency, the need for non-State climate action has never been more burning. It is encouraging to witness the airport industry’s push for ambitious carbon management from within, which this year delivered a -4.9% reduction in CO2 emissions under their control. There is much that other industries can learn from this and even emulate.”

Since last May, 14 more airports have joined the programme and become certified at one of its 4 levels of accreditation (Mapping, Reduction, Optimisation & Neutrality) – rounding up the total number of accredited airports to 288 as of today. Out of these, 147 are in Europe, 53 in Asia-Pacific, 47 in North America, 27 in Latin America & the Caribbean and 14 in Africa.

Angela Gittens, Director General, ACI World, said: “Airports have been hard at work to deliver tangible CO2 reductions through Airport Carbon Accreditation. It has been a decade since the launch of the programme and it keeps on growing - both in the number of airports coming on board and in the level of ambition for carbon management. In its tenth year, 49 participating airports upgraded to a more demanding level of accreditation, the highest ever reported.”

The Airport Carbon Accreditation Annual Report 2018-2019 is available to download here. For the latest key figures, including details of the accredited airports in each world region, their actions and the difference the programme is making, see here.

Read press release here.

More information about the Climate Neutral Now initiative can be found here.