Europe’s airport industry has committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 in an effort to reduce the sector’s impact on global warming.
The resolution was signed at ACI Europe’s 29th Annual Congress & General Assembly in Cyprus, and acts on the latest scientific evidence presented by the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming. The commitment builds on efforts already being made by the aviation sector under the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) basket of measures, including CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation).
In 2017, the European airport industry committed to have 100 carbon neutral airports by 2030. Today’s commitment builds on this but raises the stakes as airport operators will not have the possibility to purchase offset credits to reach net zero status.
The pledge is backed by 194 airports across 24 European countries, with each individually committing to the same objective. Based on Europe’s airports’ current traffic volumes (2.34 billion passengers welcomed in 2018) and estimated carbon footprint, this net zero commitment will eliminate a total of 3.46 million tons of annual CO₂ emissions as of 2050.
Dr Michael Kerkloh, president of ACI Europe and CEO of Munich Airport, said, “Europe’s airports have been leading climate action with annual reductions announced every year for the past decade. Forty-three of them have actually become carbon neutral, supported by the global industry standard Airport Carbon Accreditation.
“However, today’s commitment brings a new dimension to this – no offsets. Crucially, with its NetZero2050 commitment, the airport industry is aligning itself with the Paris Agreement and the ambitions of the vast majority of EU countries.”
Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary, UN Climate Change, added, “The IPCC Special Report from last October is unequivocal about the need to achieve net zero emissions by mid-century. We need all sectors of society working towards this ultimate goal. It is therefore encouraging to see the airport industry voluntarily raising its ambitions and we look forward to working with this vital sector.”
The NetZero2050 commitment is part of ACI Europe’s Sustainability Strategy for Airports. The strategy addresses a wide range of environmental but also social and economic issues. In this way, it equips European airports with an industry-wide framework and guidance, enabling them to embed sustainability at the core of their business strategy.
“Europe’s airports have already started delivering, and I am confident that many will reach net zero before 2050,” continued Kerkloh. “There are already three net zero airports in Europe: Luleå, Ronneby and Visby – operated by Swedish airport operator Swedavia.
“Swedavia aims to achieve net zero emissions for all its airports including Stockholm-Arlanda by 2020 along with Hamburg Airport by 2022 – while Amsterdam-Schiphol, Eindhoven and Copenhagen airports have set this goal for 2030.”