ACI sets ‘ambitious’ long-term net zero carbon emissions target for airports

By Andrew Pentol |

The ACI World Long Term Carbon Goal Study is the result of a year-long research and consultation period, underpinned by extensive analytical and evidence-based research.

Airports Council International (ACI) and its five regions (ACI Europe, ACI Latin America and Caribbean, ACI Africa, ACI Asia Pacific and ACI North America) have set a long-term goal of net zero carbon emissions for their member airports by 2050.

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

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

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

“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. We urge governments to provide the necessary support for this crucial endeavour.”


He added: “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.

ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira says the sustainability of the whole aviation sector is crucial for the present and future of the industry.

“Through a combination of new technology, operational efficiencies and infrastructure improvements, more than 10 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide 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 against the environmental impacts of continued aviation growth over the long term.”

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

According to ACI, the long-term carbon goal is ambitious and aspirational. It is 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.

This is illustrated by ACI Europe’s announcement during its recent Aviation Sustainability Summit that 235 airports in the region have committed to net zero by 2050. The same announcement also indicated that 91 airports are to achieve net zero by 2030.

ACI also believes that aviation is crucial for the global economic recovery from the impact and effects of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. This is because 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.


Oliveira said: “ACI World and the ACI regions take a leadership role in the aviation industry in promoting development which actively addresses environmental impacts. They also ensure delivery of the undoubted economic and social benefits of aviation to the communities we serve in a way that promotes their sustainability.

“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.”

Dublin Airport’s sustainability plans include short-term actions such as low-emission vehicles.

The study underlying the setting of the net zero by 2050 target was conducted by ACI World with consultants ICF and Airbiz. It was sponsored by Hong Kong International Airport, Oman Airports, the Schiphol Group, San Francisco International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Vancouver Airport Authority and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority. It was also sponsored by Exolum, World Fuel Services, and Terpel.


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