Research conducted by the University of Surrey in partnership with airport parking company Airport Parking and Hotels (APH.com) has revealed how UK airports are progressing with their sustainability and net-zero emissions goals.
The study compares London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted, London Luton and Manchester Airport, detailing their emissions commitments, ways of limiting noise and improving air quality, as well as their waste and water management.
When it comes to reaching net zero for their own operations, Gatwick has committed to achieving this by 2030 and Manchester Airport by 2038, whereas London Luton has committed to 2040 and London Heathrow by 2050.
To reach these targets, a range of initiatives are being put in place, such as generating renewable energy. Gatwick Airport is one of the first airports in the world to have an on-site waste processing and conversion facility; London Heathrow reported zero emissions for grid electricity in 2022 through a Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) tariff; and Manchester Airport is planning for its airport structure to rely entirely on renewable energy by 2030.
Air quality and noise were also found to be important factors with London Stansted and Manchester Airport both adopting noise-efficient ‘continuous climb’ and ‘continuous descent’ approaches to minimize the impact on local communities. All the surveyed airports have plans to eventually replace ground transportation vehicles with zero or ultra-low emissions vehicles with deadlines for this of 2030.
Overall, aviation currently accounts for around 2.5% of global human-induced carbon emissions, with airports’ own operations contributing to approximately 2% of this total and this is expected to increase as air traffic grows. As a result, many UK airports are introducing ways to make ground operations more sustainable, with ambitious commitments to become carbon neutral by as early as 2033.
Nick Caunter, managing director of Airport Parking and Hotels (APH.com) said, “It’s clear to see the demand for traveling abroad will continue to increase for both leisure and business. We thought it worthwhile to take an in-depth look at what UK airports are doing in terms of reducing their environmental impact and partnered with the University of Surrey to shine a spotlight on their goals. Travel is essential both culturally and economically, and it’s encouraging to see from our report the investments UK airports are putting toward reaching their targets.”
Dr Nadine Itani, lecturer in air transport management and joint program leader for MSc Air Transport Management at the University of Surrey, said, “Airports are at the forefront of the net-zero revolution. As key transportation hubs, airports have the potential to lead by example, to reduce their carbon footprint and inspire stakeholders within the aviation ecosystem to commit to a greener future. The partnership with APH.com has been an exciting opportunity to showcase just how much work is being carried out in and around UK airports to become more sustainable and to achieve net-zero carbon emissions.”
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