Airports continue carbon savings despite COVID-19 challenges

Posted on 24 November, 2021 by Advance 

As the global airport industry convenes in Cancun, Mexico for the 31st ACI LAC World Annual General Assembly, the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme published its first carbon performance results for the reporting period May 2019 to May 2021 - two years heavily marked by the COVID-19 crisis.
Image courtesy ACI EUROPE

In spite of the devastation suffered by the industry at large, the collective carbon management of airports in Years 11 and 121 of the programme yielded a reduction of 347,718 tonnes of CO2e (-5.5%) within the emissions under direct control of airport operators (i.e. Scope 1 and 2 as per GHG Protocol). This amount of CO2 can be compared to the full lifecycle emissions of 4,967,400 iPhones2. The following absolute emissions savings achieved by airports in their respective regions contributed to this result3.
•    Africa: -5,998 tonnes of CO2 (-2.3%)
•    Asia-Pacific: -73,523 tonnes of CO2 (-2.6%)
•    Europe: -154,432 tonnes of CO2 (-7.9%)
•    Latin America & the Caribbean: -6,787 tonnes of CO2 (-7.7%)
•    North America: -106,979 tonnes of CO2 (-8.3%)

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, despite the dire financial and operational conditions, 67 new airports joined the global effort to mitigate carbon emissions and thus became certified under Airport Carbon Accreditation. Currently, there are 362 airports addressing carbon emissions across the six levels of the programme.

Olivier Jankovec, ACI EUROPE Director General said: “There is no more ruthless test for an industry’s pledges to address its environmental footprint than being exposed to a crisis. When we look at the COVID-19 crisis, the magnitude of challenges it presents for the aviation industry and airports in particular is historical. Faced with terrible odds, it would have been easy to say 'We cannot do this right now. We need to put out one fire first, before we can address the next one' but this is exactly the opposite of what I have witnessed so far. The shift in the aviation industry’s commitment and indeed delivery of climate action is palpable.

“I am proud to note that airports are not sitting on the sidelines of this momentum, waiting for the bigger emitters in the sector to move first. Airports have always been and are today a powerhouse of decarbonisation and today’s announcement is another case in point for this claim. We are addressing our slice of the problem right now and making sure that we will be reliable partners for the entire eco-system in its drive to transform in the future. It is a defining moment for our industry and seeing the ambition and the perseverance that is shining through airports’ efforts in driving CO2 emissions down is a source of hope in this difficult time.”

To find out more about the programme and access the full list of accredited airports, go to: