Editor’s comment: Delivering on decarbonisation goals

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Header image: Dallas Fort Worth Airport celebrates achieving the new Level 4+ Airport Carbon Accreditation


While COVID-19 has undoubtedly challenged the global aviation industry, it has also led to a reinvigorated drive for sustainability as stakeholders look to build back better.

This week more than 20 associations collectively representing Europe’s aviation ecosystem have announced a joint commitment to work with policy makers to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. This latest pledge follows the release of the Aviation Round Table Report on Monday 16 November, which details how aviation can  recover sustainably and more resiliently from the coronavirus pandemic, while supporting the European Union’s Green Deal objectives.

Pact for sustainable aviation

EU leaders have also been urged to join and actively support an EU Pact for Sustainable Aviation by the end of 2021. In order to further reduce aviation’s environmental footprint and achieve decarbonisation, the pact calls for various steps to be adopted, including: An EU legislative framework to promote the uptake, production and deployment of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF); Funding and investment to accelerate low-carbon aircraft innovations; Increased public co-funding rates for Civil Aviation Research & Innovation through EU recovery mechanisms; And the revision of the Single European Sky and continuation of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme/CORSIA.

In support of the pact, Olivier Jankovec, Airport Council International (ACI) Europe’s Director General, said: “The European aviation sector believes that its recovery is fully compatible with, and should be accompanied by, broader efforts to reduce its environmental footprint, provided the right policies are in place.”

New carbon accreditation levels

In line with the airport industry’s continued progress towards decarbonisation, Jankovec revealed two new Airport Carbon Accreditation levels during the airport trade body’s annual congress, which was held on Tuesday 17 November. The carbon accreditation programme had previously gone up to Level 3+ Neutrality, but Level 4 Transformation and Level 4+ Transition go beyond that, requiring airports to align their management strategies and plans with the ambition of the Paris Agreement, according to which global warming should be limited to below 2⁰C  and ideally 1.5⁰C. Carbon footprints will also be extended under the new levels, so additional emission sources have to be included, notably covering all significant operational emissions from third parties, including airlines. Requirements related to stakeholder engagement will also be tightened with effective partnerships oriented towards delivering emissions reductions coming to the fore.

“During the worst of the pandemic, airports around the world continued to achieve accreditation at all levels of the programme,” said Jankovec. “The introduction of these two further levels sets the bar yet higher. They bring the programme in line with the latest scientific and policy developments of recent years, and quite rightly reflect enhanced public expectations of the societal and environmental role we play,” he concluded.

With two airports having already achieved Level 4+ accreditation – Dallas Fort Worth in the US (pictured) and Indira Gandhi International Airport in India – it’s great to see the wheels are already in motion for airports to continue playing their part in delivering a zero-carbon future.

Have a great weekend,

Chloë Greenbank,

Editor, Regional Gateway