Christchurch Airport in New Zealand has marked a new milestone in its lower carbon journey having gone beyond being carbon neutral to become climate positive.

The airport has had greenhouse gas (GHG) footprints independently measured and audited since 2006. It was recognised as  world leading in airport decarbonisation in late 2020, when it became the world’s first airport to achieve Airport Carbon Accreditation Level 4. It now mentors other air transport hubs around the world, including New York’s JFK, Newark Liberty and LaGuardia in the US, as well as Bristol in the UK, Perth and Brisbane Airports in Australia and the Irish Airports Group, on how to reduce emissions.

“Achieving this next level in our journey is critically important, because airports and aviation support economic activities that earn the most export dollars per tonne of carbon and support improved wellbeing for future generations,” said Christchurch Airport’s Chief Executive, Malcolm Johns, commenting on the airports climate positive achievement.

He added that the airport will continue to address its emissions reductions, ahead of science-based targets aligned with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

“This includes working with airline partners to accelerate the decarbonisation of the aviation sector,” he said. “Emissions by aircraft while in the air are a big part of the remaining challenge. Airlines and aircraft manufacturers have plans to accelerate the development and deployment of lower-carbon technology.”

In December 2021, the airport announced its Kowhai Park project – to be New Zealand’s largest solar energy array at 400 hectares on the airport premises.

“By developing renewable energy, we will have the potential to provide 100% renewable electricity or hydrogen for aviation in Christchurch, and a renewable energy source to power low carbon ground transport and industry for Christchurch.

“We see Kowhai Park as a step beyond carbon neutrality and a way we can catalyse the low carbon future of the Canterbury region.”

Christchurch is working with Hamburg Airport in Germany as a leader in applying hydrogen within airport operations to combine their knowledge and accelerate adaptation. The New Zealand hub is also supporting permanent native forestry restoration to remove GHG emissions from the atmosphere with Johns highlighting, “Our ambition is to go beyond ‘neutral’. We want to have a positive net benefit on our environment so are aiming at 25% beyond neutral.”

He concluded: “Investing in New Zealand based permanent native forestry restoration to remove carbon from our atmosphere beyond our own footprint. This will also actively assist biodiversity, habitat restoration, landscape resilience improvements, soil health and water quality.”


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