Airport Carbon Accreditation Programme
The Airport Carbon Accreditation programmewas launched by the Airports Council International Europe in 2009 and has now expanded to include 237 airports worldwide. It is a voluntary industry led initiative, that provides a common framework for carbon management with the primary objective to encourage and enable airports to implement best practices. It is run by an independent Programme Administrator who manages the application and approval process, and is overseen by an independent Advisory Board that reviews the progress and relevance of the programme. All data submitted by airport companies via Airport Carbon Accreditation are externally and independently verified.
The programme is structured around four levels of certification (Level 1: Mapping, Level 2: Reduction, Level 3: Optimisation and Level 3+: Neutrality) with increasing scope and obligations for carbon emissions management (Scope 1: Direct airport emissions, Scope 2: Indirect emissions under airport control from consumption of purchased electricity, heat or steam and Scope 3: emissions by others operating at the airport such as aircraft, surface access, staff travel). As of the latest 2017-2018 reporting period, there are 133 European airports17 participating in the programme.
These airports correspond to 1.343 billion passengers (65% of passengers in Europe) in 2017-2018, compared to 1.105 billion passengers (64% of passengers in Europe) in the 2014-2015 period. Total direct emissions which were under the full control of the airport were reported as 1.985 million tonnes of CO2 in 2017-2018, down from 2.089 million tonnes of CO2 in the 2014-2015 period. The carbon emission per passenger travelling through European airports at all levels of Airport Carbon Accreditation has stabilised over the last 3 years at about 1.5 kg CO2/passenger ().
In Scope 1 and 2 emissions, a total reduction18 of 0.169 million tonnes of CO2 ( ) for all accredited airports at Level 2 and above was also reported in 2017-2018. This represents about 7.9% of the average annual emissions during the 2014-2017 period. The Scope 3 emissions increased by 1.159 million tonnes of CO2 in 2017-2018, compared to a reduction of 0.551 million tonnes in the 2014-2015 period.
17 The figures presented on this page contain six non-EU28+EFTA airports (Istanbul Ataturk, Antalya, Ankara, Izmir, Pristina and Tirana) which are included in the European values provided in the Annual Reports.
18 Emissions reductions have to be demonstrated against the average historical emissions of the three years before year 0. As year 0 changes every year upon an airport’s renewal/upgrade, the three years selected for the average calculation do so as well. Consequently, airports have to show emissions reductions against a three-year rolling average.
Airports Council International Europe (ACI EUROPE)
ACI EUROPE represents over 500 airports in 45 European countries, which accounts for over 90% of commercial air traffic in the region. It works to promote professional excellence and best practice amongst its members, including in the area of environmental protection.
Measures to reduce emissions from airport-related activities include improving the energy efficiency of infrastructure, facilitating the transition to electric vehicles, both airside and landside, and the adoption of SAFs by airlines, to name a few. A growing number of airports generate renewable energy on-site, such as Athens International (solar), Reus (geothermal) and La Palma (wind). It is increasingly recognised that collaboration between all partners operating at the airport is essential to reduce emissions, as shown by Budapest Airport through its Greenairport programme. 35 European airports have achieved carbon neutral status for their operations, and ACI EUROPE has set the target of reaching 100 carbon neutral airports by 2030. Ronneby Airport in Sweden is the first European airport to completely eliminate carbon emissions, without offsetting, from activities under its direct control through significant investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.
Aircraft noise is another significant environmental challenge and airports play a crucial role in facilitating coordination between all relevant stakeholders to identify the most suitable noise mitigation measures based on the specific local circumstances and residents’ needs. Airports can also play an important role in the implementation of these measures, for example by establishing or contributing to sound insulation schemes, which can involve investments of millions of euros. In addition to reducing aircraft noise, transparent and regular communication with residents has its own added value, enhancing trust and potentially reducing annoyance. The Dialogue Forum at Vienna Airport, which involves communities in noise-related decision-making, is one of the most successful examples of such engagement.
Innovation also drives activities of European airports in the environmental sphere. For example, London Gatwick Airport became the first airport worldwide to construct a plant onsite that converts cabin waste into energy, while Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is applying circular economy principles to the refurbishment of its car parks and lighting systems. Finally, the Norwegian airport operator Avinor has set the objective of enabling all Norwegian short-haul flights to become electric by 2040.
Airport Regions Conference (ARC)
ARC is an association of local and regional authorities with an international airport on their territories. It has over 30 members, representing nearly 70 million European citizens. More than half of European air traffic goes through an ARC airport. ARC Members are dedicated to balancing the economic benefits generated by the airport with their environmental
Benchmarking noise policies: improving airport noise management and going beyond the balanced approach
ARC has developed a methodology to help decision-makers assess the implementation of noise policies at airports, taking into account both acoustical and non-acoustical factors. By comparing the implementation of mitigation measures that go beyond just the balanced approach, it is possible to ‘map’ the situation at an airport. Such mapping does not rank one airport against another, but allows for identification of actions that could be further developed.
For example, below is a comparison of noise policies at two different airports. Using this methodology, one can identify where there are areas and opportunities for improvement.
Some lessons from this benchmarking exercise:
- The balanced approach does not cover all the available tools for noise management.
- No situation is ever entirely comparable to another, and this tool supports decision-makers in identifying what can still be done.
- A comprehensive noise policy requires the cooperation of all stakeholders using an appropriate governance structure.
- No airport area is using all available tools, so there is always room for improvement.
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
Environmental NGOs19 in Europe are actively involved in policy-making discussions to address the increasing environmental impacts of aviation. They communicate wider civil society views on concerns and positions associated with noise, air pollution, climate change and social justice.
Union Européenne Contre les Nuisances Aériennes (UECNA)
UECNA was created in 1968 and is a pan-European NGO representing citizens impacted from the nuisance of noise and air pollution associated with aviation. UECNA represents its members in expert work groups, mainly at the European level, and keeps them informed of new developments.
Aviation is growing and this trend will continue in the coming years. The consequences of noise and pollution on the health of populations overflown by aircraft are often not internalised within market prices. An awareness of these environmental challenges by all stakeholders, at the European, national and local level, is essential in order to identify and implement plans that will significantly reduce these impacts.
UECNA works continuously with this objective in mind. A constructive comparison process is an important element of progress that UECNA promotes. Through systematic benchmarking and positive comparisons of the solutions put in place at various airports, best practise solutions can be shared in order support general measures to reduce noise and air pollution. UECNA works closely with the European Aircraft Noise Measurement System (EANS) in this area.
Case Study: European Aircraft Noise Measurement System
The public can sometimes find it difficult to obtain information on aircraft noise in their area (e.g. noise levels, flight tracks). As a result, one such community near Frankfurt Airport decided to monitor aircraft noise itself. This led to the founding of the European Aircraft Noise Measurement System (EANS) as an NGO in 2002. Today, the EANS offers free online information about aircraft noise covering 54 airports with 697 noise monitoring stations in 8 European countries. The EANS system is financed by citizens and municipalities through membership fees and donations, and managed by Eidgenössische Materialprüfungsanstalt (EMPA) in Switzerland. It provides expert advice to technical working groups, and works closely with UECNA.
24 hours of flights at Frankfurt Airport on 13 July 2018
19 This includes Transport & Environment, Aviation Environment Federation, Carbon Market Watch and UECNA who are members of the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation. There is also a range of national NGOs such as RAC (France), Bund (Germany) active in the aviation area as well as many local action groups.