Further 24 airports pledge backing to Europe’s 2050 net zero emissions target

By Luke Barras-hill |

Ten airports operated by landlord Swedavia are now fossil-free. Source: Swedavia/Svante Örnberg.

More than 90 European airports are set to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2030, heard delegates attending the second ACI Europe Aviation Sustainability Summit on 20 May.

An ACI Europe resolution adopted in May 2019 committed its members to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest.

In addition to the 211 airports aligned to that goal before Covid-19, an additional 24 airports have now joined the European airport industry commitment.

This means 235 airports run by 63 operators across 20 countries are backing the initiative.

Olivier Jankovec, Director General, ACI Europe.

‘STEPPED-UP AMBITIONS’

The 235 airports took a 68% share of European passenger traffic in 2019.

Olivier Jankovec, Director General, ACI Europe said: “Europe’s airports have been leading globally on climate action for the past 12 years, delivering constant CO2 reductions through Airport Carbon Accreditation.

“While Covid-19 is an unprecedented shock from which we still must recover, it has only reinforced our resolve to play our part in the transition towards carbon-free European economies.

“The renewed and stepped-up ambition levels we are announcing are truly impressive given the circumstances. They reflect not just continued alignment with the EU Climate goals, but for many airports that are now targeting Net Zero by 2030, it means going well beyond the EU’s 2030 reduction target of -55%.

“Of course, these efforts are also part and parcel of the vision and roadmap towards a Net Zero European aviation by 2050, which recently came to fruition through ‘Destination 2050’. Beyond reducing those CO2 emissions for which they are directly responsible, Europe’s airports will also have a crucial role to play in supporting other partners and in particular airlines in their own decarbonisation efforts.”

Jankovec added that while the industry is doing all it can to recover from the decimation of Covid-19, ‘more supportive regulatory and financing frameworks’ are required given the current hurdles faced by the industry.

“There is no escape that delivering on these Net Zero targets will be extremely challenging given the financial distress in which Europe’s airports find themselves in,” he continued.

“With generally limited financial support extended to airports to face the Covid-19 crisis, still significant uncertainty over the recovery coupled with constant downward pressure on airport charges, no access to the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility and inadequate State aid rules, Europe’s airports are facing an investment crunch.

“This will hurt investment in sustainability first, and the risk of locked-in carbon intensive solutions at airports is real. This needs to be addressed by the EU and European States as a matter of priority – they have to walk the talk on the regulatory and financial side when they speak about greening airports.”

Niclas Svenningsen, Manager, Global Climate Action, UNFCCC added: “The Covid-19 crisis has changed the world as we know it, leaving no sector unscathed and reshuffling many a priority. It is therefore with great joy that I welcome European airports’ perseverance in upholding their pledge to reach net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

“Even more so, as over 90 of them are setting the bar even higher and planning to hit this target by 2030. This is the kind of ambition we need in the run up to the upcoming COP26. Given the un-relentless pace of the Climate Emergency, now more than ever we need all stakeholders to get on board with climate action.”

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