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More of Europe’s Airports Are Environmentally Sound

Europe’s Airports take the lead among peers for environmental compliance and carbon-neutral initiatives.

Two more of Europe’s Airports have now been certified as carbon-neutral compliant, according to airports group ACI EUROPE.

  • Gatwick Airport and Lyon-Saint Exupéry become the latest carbon neutral airports in Europe both reached carbon neutral status (Level 3+), certified by the independent carbon management programme Airport Carbon Accreditation.
  • There are now 27 carbon neutral airports in Europe, 4 in Asia and 1 in North America
  • The 27 carbon neutral airports in Europe welcome 18.9% of European air passenger traffic.
  • This announcement coincides with EU Green Week.
  • The European airport industry updates its commitment to have 50 carbon neutral airports in Europe by 2030.

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has estimated that aviation’s total CO2 emissions account for 2% of global emissions’ impact on climate change. Of that figure, airports’ own operations only account for up to 5%, but airports are keen to tackle their greenhouse gas emissions. Several individual airports operators having already committed to becoming carbon neutral in the past few years with some having already achieved this.

UN Backing

Niclas Svenningsen, who heads the Climate Neutral Now initiative at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat in Bonn, Germany commented of the latest airports to gain carbon-neutral status:

“This is certainly a significant moment for Gatwick, as the first carbon neutral London airport and also for Lyon-Saint Exupéry, as the second French airport to become carbon neutral – and we congratulate them on all of the work that they have undertaken to get here. We are also encouraged to see that the European airport industry is already past the half-way mark in its commitment to having 50 carbon neutral airports by 2030 – this is promising progress and we hope that other industries are taking note.”

The Airport Carbon Accreditation programme – launched by the airport association ACI EUROPE in 2009 – certifies airports at four different levels of accreditation covering all stages of carbon management (1. Mapping, 2. Reduction, 3. Optimisation and 3+. Neutrality).

The program has the support of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the European Commission (EC) and others.

It is is administered independently by leading consultancy WSP and overseen by an independent Advisory Board including representatives from the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change), ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation), UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme), the European Commission, ECAC (European Civil Aviation Conference), EUROCONTROL and Manchester Metropolitan University.

As the programme administrator, WSP assesses and approves the airports under the programme, provides administrative and secretariat services and advises applicant airports through the accreditation process. WSP is one of the world’s leading professional services firms. Amongst others it provides services to transform the built environment and restore the natural one and expertise ranging from environmental / climate remediation to urban and transport planning, to designing and implementing sustainable transport networks and strategies, to airport sustainability carbon management and energy planning and management.

While it was developed and launched by ACI Europe in June 2009, Airport Carbon Accreditation was extended to airports in Asia-Pacific, in November 2011 (in partnership with ACI Asia-Pacific) and to African airports in June 2013, (in partnership with ACI Africa). North American airports joined the initiative in September 2014 (in partnership with ACI-NA).


Europe at the Lead in Airport Sustainability by a Wide Margin

The movement towards more environmentally responsible airports in Europe began when Swedavia’s Stockholm-Arlanda airport achieved certification as the first carbon neutral airport in the world in November 2009. Across the four available levels of the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme, there are currently a total of 116 airports in Europe, working to address their CO2 emissions. Combined, they serve 64.9% of European passenger traffic.


Aéroports de Lyon – the operator of Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport announced that it has reached carbon neutral status  (Level 3+) within Airport Carbon Accreditation late last week, having initially entered the programme at the ‘Mapping’ level (Level 1) in 2013. Its sustainability efforts have encompassed a variety of activities, from direct reduction of its CO2, switching to cleaner sources of energy, engaging 20 companies on its airport site to lower their CO2 and investing in carbon offsets for the remaining CO2 emissions under the airport operator’s control.

“Lyon Saint-Exupéry plays an invaluable role in its region and the whole of France. Its latest achievement of becoming carbon neutral speaks volumes about its commitment to sustainability and it is something that all of the team there can be justifiably proud of,” said Olivier Jankovec, Director General, ACI EUROPE.


Gatwick Airport has also been active undertaking a variety of programs towards its carbon-neutral goals. It has actively reduced its annual carbon emissions from fuel and energy, ultimately achieving a 2.6% drop in annual energy consumption per passenger. The airport has also engaged others on the site to lower their CO2, it uses 100% renewable energy (since 2013) and has invested in carbon offsets. The airport announced its Level 3+ carbon neutral status on Wednesday of this week.

Jankovec commented: “London is Europe’s most popular destination by air and it is great to see Gatwick moving up to Level 3+ of the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme – and becoming the second busiest carbon neutral airport in Europe. I congratulate Stewart Wingate and all the hardworking team at Gatwick on this significant moment in the ‘Decade of Change’ strategy and the extraordinary range of initiatives and activities they have undertaken to address the CO2 emissions at the airport.”

Stewart Wingate, CEO of London Gatwick said: “We consider sustainability as critical to our future as a successful airport and the news that we are now a carbon neutral airport shows just how far we have come since independent ownership in 2009. Our Decade of Change strategy is really driving our sustainability performance and today’s results show that we are successfully balancing growth with a reduced environmental footprint, while also contributing to the community and thriving local and national economies.”

The CO2 reduction achieved by European airports during Year 8 (June 2016 to May 2017), will be announced during the 27th ACI EUROPE Annual Assembly, Congress & Exhibition in Paris next month.

More information is available on the airports association’s dedicated microsite.



1 thought on “More of Europe’s Airports Are Environmentally Sound”

  1. Pingback: Europe's Airports Side with Paris, Commit to 100 Carbon Neutral Airports by 2030 | Flight Chic

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