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NEWS Last modified on September 15, 2014

North American airports join global bid to reduce carbon emissions

ACI-North America has joined aviation's Airport Carbon Accreditation programme and, with ACI’s Latin America & Caribbean region set to follow in November, the industry’s pioneering scheme to reduce its CO2 emissions will become truly global by the end of its fifth year.

Announcing the US and Canada’s commitment to the scheme at last week's ACI-NA Annual Conference & Exhibition in Atlanta, president and CEO, Kevin Burke, told Airport World: “Joining the scheme is our way of making sure that our airports are doing the right thing when it comes to the environment.

“What ACI Europe has achieved in their region has been nothing short of phenomenal, and I hope we can repeat that success in North America as this is an enormously important programme, and reducing our impact on the environment should be at the forefront of the thinking of all airport directors.

“As an ambitious industry we want to do our part to lower our carbon footprint and become partners in the global aviation system. It is good for the environment and it good for business.”

Burke is quick to point out that North American airports have a pretty good record when it comes to the environment, many such as Chicago O’Hare, San Diego and San Francisco gaining reputations as environmental pioneers, but the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme is the first independently verified scheme to address the entire industry.

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Seattle-Tacoma has become the first US gateway to be accredited within the programme and is expected be joined by Montréal Trudeau, Denver, San Francisco and Portland airports by early next year.

The addition of Sea-Tac means that 108 gateways in Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific and now North America have gained Airport Carbon Accreditation certification since the scheme was launched in Europe in 2009.

Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe, enthused that the addition of ACI-NA marked a major milestone for the scheme he helped launch in Europe five years ago.

“This is a big moment, a milestone event in fact for the programme, as it demonstrates the momentum of the airport industry’s global commitment to the environment, and shows that increasing the size of terminal buildings does not necessarily mean an increase in CO2 emissions.

“Many industries talk about their commitments. We are getting on with the job and delivering genuine, independently-verified carbon reduction year-on-year.”

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The industry has certainly come a long since ACI Europe launched the entirely voluntary programme in June 2009 and Frankfurt Airport became the first carbon certified gateway three months later.

Highlights since include Stockholm Arlanda achieving carbon neutrality – the highest level of accreditation – in November 2009; Milan airport operator, SEA, becoming the first airport group to achieve carbon neutrality; the expansion of the programme to ACI’s Asia-Pacific region in late 2011 and subsequent recognition it received for doing this from ICAO; All 10 Swedavia operated airports gaining carbon neutrality; and ACI Africa joining the scheme last year.

European airports currently account for 86% of the 108 gateways to be accredited to date, and their efforts reduced CO2 emissions across the continent by an estimated 350,000 tonnes – the equivalent of providing power to 150,000 houses for a year.

“Together we are proving to our regulators and our communities that we are capable of running our businesses responsibly and with care for the planet without the need for regulatory interference," added Jankovec.

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