Europe’s Airport Carbon Accreditation program is now boasting fifty-five major European airports as members and making a significant dent in carbon emissions. The voluntary program has a four-level rating system that assesses and recognizes the efforts of airports to manage and reduce their carbon emissions to achieve carbon neutral operations for all emissions over which the airport has control.
“It is clearly helping to move European aviation onto a more sustainable footing,” European Union Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas told the Associated Press. “Genuine progress on greening transport … can only occur when the regulator’s work is complemented by citizens and businesses taking action of their own.”
Airports are changing airport vehicles to electric or hybrid power, installing solar panels to generate the airport’s own electricity, and involving the entire airport operation. Airlines, air traffic control, ground handlers, baggage handlers, catering companies, refueling trucks, passenger shuttle transport, airport maintenance services, emergency services, police, border control and retailers are all held accountable and encouraged to make a positive impact.
Aircraft engines are probably what we think of as major contributors to the carbon emission tally. At participating airports, specific taxiing techniques are used to reduce fuel burn. Apparently, common taxiing routes are not always the most fuel efficient, especially if the aircraft has to overcome steep taxiway elevations, sits still waiting for cross traffic to clear and/or many sharp turns.
Like some cruise ships, ground power is provided to parked aircraft. Instead of having them leave their engines running, aircraft plug in to land power, further reducing emissions and possibly making for more breathable cabin air quality too.
The 55 major European airports participating in the Airport Carbon Accreditation program account for over half of all passenger traffic from Europe’s 400 plus aviation facilities. That’s up from 43 accredited airports last year who achieved a reduction of 729,689 tons of greenhouse gases, equivalent to removing around 180,000 cars from the roads.
Participating airports include London’s Gatwick and Heathrow; Frankfurt; Munich; Amsterdam; Brussels; Zurich; Geneva; and others.
Flickr photo by Christoph Mendt