How does it work?

Airports are at different points on the journey to becoming cleaner and more efficient. As the centrepoints of a complex web of aircraft movements, technical operations and surface access transport, airports can address their CO₂ emissions in a variety of ways. These can include better insulation and energy efficiency, switching to green energy sources, investing in hybrid, electric or renewable gas-powered service vehicles, encouraging employees, passengers and visitors to use public transport, working with airlines and air traffic management to reduce runway taxiing times and implement green landing processes and much more.

Airports can participate in the programme at one of the four main progressively stringent levels of accreditation: 1. Mapping; 2. Reduction; 3. Optimisation; and 4. Transformation. In addition, airports at level 3 and 4 can choose to offset their residual emissions, thereby achieving level 3+ (Neutrality) and 4+ (Transition) respectively.

In 2020, Level 4 (Transformation) and 4+ (Transition) have been added to the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme to align it with the objectives of the Paris Agreement to limit the increase of global average temperature to 2°C above pre-industrial levels and aim to not exceed 1.5°C. Levels 4 and 4+ have been introduced as an interim step towards the long-term goal of supporting airports in achieving net zero carbon emissions. Level 4 and 4+ will therefore encourage airports to reduce their emissions in line with the latest scientific and political developments and meet growing public and stakeholder expectations.

Expanding on its remarkable history and acknowledging the necessity for constant enhancement, the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme has introduced Level 5, the highest achievement within the programme. Airports can now validate their efforts in maintaining a Net Zero carbon balance for Scopes 1 and 2 while also addressing Scope 3 emissions, showcasing their commitment to sustainable future for the aviation sector as a whole.

The process

To apply for certification at one of the 7 levels of the programme, airports must have their carbon footprints independently verified in accordance with ISO14064 (Greenhouse Gas Accounting) by one of the verifiers approved by the programme administrator (view the full list here). Evidence of this must be provided to the administrator together with all claims regarding carbon management processes which must also be independently verified.

Once all documentation supplied by the airport is in order, the programme administrator issues an accreditation confirmation. The airport’s achievement can then benefit from the recognition through actions undertaken by its respective ACI Region, taking the form of an official certificate and a range of external communications.

Here’s how the process works: