Stakeholder actions

The Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) programme [25]  was launched in 2009 by the Airports Council International Europe and, as of November 2021, includes 362 airports on a global basis. The ACA is a voluntary industry led initiative, overseen by an independent Administrator and Advisory Board, that provides a common framework for carbon management with the primary objective to encourage and enable airports to reduce their CO2 emissions. All data submitted by airports is externally and independently verified. As of the latest mid 2019 to mid 2021 reporting period, there were 155 European airports participating in the programme corresponding to 65.2% of European passenger traffic ( Figure 6.4. ).

The ACA programme was initially structured around four levels of certification (Level 1: Mapping, Level 2: Reduction, Level 3: Optimisation; 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).

In 2020, Levels 4 (Transformation48) and 4+ (Transition49) have been added as interim steps towards the long-term goal of achieving net zero CO2 emissions and to align it with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. Guidelines were also published to inform airports about offsetting options, requirements and recommendations, as well as dedicated guidance on the procurement of offsets [26] . When applying for Levels 4 and 4+ airports are required to develop both a Carbon Management Plan and a Stakeholder Partnership Plan in order to formulate a long-term absolute reduction trajectory and target for all Scope 1 & 2 emissions, and possibly also Scope 3 emissions. A carbon footprint for the airport’s emissions shall include additional emissions sources compared to the requirements of Levels 3 and 3+ (e.g. deicing substances, refrigerant losses, third non-road emissions, aircraft full flight emissions and offsite emissions such as waste incineration).

As of November 2021, 7 European airports have already achieved accreditation at the highest Level 4+ (Milan Linate Airport, Cannes-Mandelieu Airport, Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, La Môle-Saint-Tropez Airport, Rome-Fiumicino International Airport, Rome-Ciampino International Airport and Rotterdam The Hague Airport).

Due to the impact of COVID-19, the ACA programme decided to merge Years 11 and 12 and treat them as a single reporting year covering mid 2019 to mid 2021. Consequently, each airport submitted one 12 month carbon footprint at different moments during this two year period. Total direct CO2 emissions which were under the full control of accredited European airports (Scope 1 and 2) were reported as 1.845 million tonnes of CO2. The carbon emission per passenger travelling through European airports at all levels of Airport Carbon Accreditation was 1.14 kg CO2/passenger ( Figure 6.5. ).

A total reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions compared to a three year rolling average50 of 0.154 million tonnes of CO2 for all accredited airports in Europe was also reported ( Figure 6.6. ). This represents about 7.9% reduction compared to the three-year rolling average. The Scope 3 emissions showed a smaller increase of 0.679 million tonnes of CO2 compared to an increase by 1.159 million tonnes of CO2 in 2017-2018 reporting period.

Air Traffic Control Team Working in an Airport Tower

48Definition of a long-term carbon management strategy oriented towards absolute emissions reductions and aligned with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. Demonstration of actively driving third parties towards delivering emissions reductions.
49All Levels 1 to 4 plus offsetting of the residual carbon emissions over which the airport has control.
50Emissions 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.

Silhouette of young family and airplane

aci logoACI EUROPE represents over 500 airports in 55 countries, which accounts for over 90% of commercial air traffic in Europe. It works to promote professional excellence and best practice amongst its members, including in the area of environmental protection.

Paving the way for Green Hydrogen

In September 2021, Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport launched a partnership with Airbus and Air Liquide to promote the use of hydrogen at airports, which will unfold in three stages:

  1. 2023: A ‘green’ hydrogen gas distribution station, produced from renewable energy, will be deployed to supply airport ground vehicles (airside buses, trucks, handling equipment, etc.) and heavy goods vehicles that drive around the airport.
  2. 2023 to 2030: Green liquid hydrogen infrastructure will be installed at the airport to allow future aircraft to be fuelled with liquid hydrogen.
  3. 2030 onwards: Green liquid hydrogen infrastructure, from production to mass distribution, will be deployed at the airport.

This project will serve as a preparatory project to roll-out similar infrastructure across Europe.

Net zero CO2 emissions

More than 10 years ago, Swedavia decided that its 10 airports should be fossil-free.

To achieve the long-term target of zero CO2 emissions by 2020, Swedavia uses green electricity (e.g. wind, solar, biofuel in combined heat and power plants) and has implemented extensive conversions and investments in both vehicles and energy-efficiency improvements. Collaboration and innovation have been key to finding solutions, with goals to drive development. Robust measurement systems and data management have also created new insights and new possibilities in terms of optimising operations and reducing fuel consumption. Finally, the last key to success has been the commitment shown by Swedavia’s leaders and employees.

This is just one intermediate goal to help achieve the overarching objectives agreed on by the Swedish aviation industry: that domestic aviation ends its reliance on fossil fuels by 2030 and that by 2045 no flights taking off from Swedish airports use fossil fuels.

Departure optimisation in Amsterdam

Since 2008, an alternative PBN based Standard Instrument Departure (SID) route (green tracks) has been used at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport with a Fixed Radius (FR) turn. The FR turn allows aircraft to navigate more accurately in the first turning part of the departure between the residential areas of Hoofddorp and Nieuw-Vennep, thereby reducing the spread in flown tracks (yellow tracks). While the noise is concentrated around the trajectory of the RF turn, the overall resulting nuisance is reduced, and while this leads to concentration of noise over Floriande, the noise impacts are smaller because aircraft fly higher over this area. This PBN was designed using Collaborative Environmental Management and led to a reduction of noise complaints.

green tracks

arc-logoARC 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

Cycle Express Highways

Cycle Express Highways

Airport inter-modality with public transport and accessibility via cycle lanes are critical to mitigate air pollution from surface access traffic. In the Frankfurt-Rhein-Main region, cycle express highways are planned to augment the existing cycle path network and Frankfurt International airport will be part of that network. These dedicated expressways are direct routes with limited inclines to facilitate quicker and longer journeys by bike, as well as being wider in order to provide more space and greater safety. It facilitates commuting by bike which benefits the health of citizens and has a positive impact on air quality by reducing commuter traffic [27] .

ngo-logosEnvironmental NGOs 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 [28] . They also contribute to raising awareness on aviation’s environmental impact through transparency of data.

Tracking emissions of flights from airports

emissions visualisation in europe

For the first time in 2020, European airlines were requested to comply with the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) and to report on all their CO2 emissions during 2019, including flights entering and exiting Europe, not only on intra- European flights. Based on data requests from national governments, it was found that some airlines had over 80% of their CO2 emissions linked to long haul flights.

An Airport Tracker was subsequently released in 2021 to visualize the emissions from these flights [29] . Passenger flights departing Europe’s five major airports: London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt, Amsterdam Schiphol and Madrid Barajas emitted 53 million tonnes of CO2 in 2019 – similar to the Swedish economy.