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Airports confirm commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050


ACI Asia-Pacific welcomes the announcement that ACI World and the five ACI regions – in collaboration with members – have created a long-term carbon goal for their member airports.

The announcement simply says: “ACI member airports at a global level commit to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and urge governments to provide the necessary support in this endeavour.”

Climate change is a global challenge requiring an urgent global response given the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent call to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

ACI’s long term carbon goal relates to the carbon emissions under the direct control of airport operators and will be a crucial component of the aviation industry’s contribution towards this global effort.

ACI Asia-Pacific’s director general, Stefano Baronci, says: “The global airport sector has stepped up its industry leadership by publicly announcing a long-term carbon goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions by the year 2050.

“The climate crisis requires decisive action. The global goal we set for airport members today will help drive action and identify common challenges and opportunities that can be tackled together.

“Asia-Pacific is a fast-developing market that will experience explosive growth with almost 100 new airports and a sixfold increase in passenger demand projected by 2050. The Middle East region is also predicted to experience a rapid increase in traffic with new airport developments projected by the same year.

“Airport operators in the two regions are already showing a stronger increase in focus on carbon-reduction initiatives and will play their part in achieving this global goal.

“Close collaboration and partnerships with governments and industries and an accelerated rate of decarbonisation of electricity grids will be decisive to make this goal become reality.”

ACI notes that airports have long taken a leadership role in addressing, minimising, and mitigating the environmental impacts of aviation, arguably best demonstrated by the association’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme – designed to decrease carbon emissions at airports – launched over a decade ago.

Building upon the commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 initially launched by ACI Europe June 2019, ACI has created this ambitious long-term carbon goal to drive further action and support the decarbonisation efforts of airports as they respond to the climate challenge.

“The climate crisis requires bold action at the local, regional and global level and the goal we have set for airport members will help to drive action and identify common challenges and opportunities that can be tackled together,” stated ACI World director general Luis Felipe de Oliveira.

“We set out to work with all ACI Regions and our membership globally to establish a net zero goal at a global level that airports can commit to reaching, and we urge governments to provide the necessary support for this crucial endeavour.

“The sustainability of the whole aviation sector is crucial for the present and future of the industry, it is our passport to a return to growth, and the industry has invested billions in measures and practices which have made significant progress in reducing its environmental impact.

“Through a combination of new technology, operational efficiencies and infrastructure improvements, more than ten billion tonnes of CO2 have been averted by the industry since 1990, but we must build on this and accelerate our collective efforts to decarbonise.

“Airports cannot do this alone, however, and this is just the first step. If they are to realise this ambitious target, they must work closely with the wider aviation community and count on the support of governments and key stakeholders to address, minimise and mitigate the environmental impacts of continued aviation growth over the long-term.”

Airports are an integral part of the response to climate change but ACI recognises that each airport, country, and region is different.

The long-term carbon goal is ambitious and aspirational and intended to be adopted by individual airports in accordance with local conditions, with the support of local governments, to a timeline towards net zero by 2050 that works for them.

ACI also believes that aviation is crucial for the global economic recovery from the impact and effects of COVID-19 as the industry’s global economic impact – direct, indirect, induced and catalytic – contributes trillions to world gross domestic product, supports millions of jobs, and fosters sustainable development.

“ACI World and the ACI Regions take a leadership role in the aviation industry in promoting development which actively addresses environmental impacts while also ensuring delivery of the undoubted economic and social benefits of aviation to the communities we serve in a way that promotes their sustainability,” adds de Oliveira.

“The aviation industry’s permission to operate and grow will only be granted when the communities we serve are an integral part of the work that airports, the wider aviation community, and governments are doing, together with proactive climate action which is even more critical in the recovery efforts from the pandemic.”

The study underlying the setting of the goal was conducted by ACI World with consultants ICF and Airbiz, and sponsored by a number of airports that included ACI Asia-Pacific members Hong Kong International Airport and Oman Airports and associate member Vancouver Airport Authority.

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