Airports reveal step-change in continued progress towards decarbonisation as new Airport Carbon Accreditation levels are announced

17 November 2020

Global standard for airport climate action shows increased ambition despite challenge of pandemic

17 November 2020 - ACI has today unveiled two further levels of achievement in its global Airport Carbon Accreditation programme, marking the industry’s determination to ‘Build Back Better’ as it looks towards recovery. 

Introducing Level 4 Transformation and Level 4+ Transition

At ACI EUROPE’s Annual Congress, live-streamed from Brussels Airport, Olivier Jankovec announced the first major, structural change to the programme since its inception in 2009: two new accreditation levels - Level 4 Transformation and Level 4+ Transition

The introduction of these two new levels marks a shift in the ambition level of the programme. CO2 emissions reductions and continuous improvements have been at the core of Airport Carbon Accreditation since launch. Level 1 Mapping through to Level 3+ Neutrality do allow for flexibility in the magnitude of reductions achieved. 

By contrast, Levels 4 and 4+ set out further obligations - namely:

  • Alignment with the Paris Agreement: requiring airports to align their carbon management strategies and plans with the ambition of the Paris Agreement, according to which global warming should be limited to below 2⁰C and ideally 1.5⁰C. These objectives have been translated into emissions reduction scenarios by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and airports will have to define their reduction targets and associated emissions pathways accordingly.
  • Extended carbon footprint: additional emissions sources have to be included, notably covering all significant operational emissions from third parties, including airlines.
  • Enhanced stakeholder engagement: requirements related to stakeholder engagement are tightened, with effective partnerships oriented towards delivering emissions reductions coming to the fore.

Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE, said: “The Airport Carbon Accreditation programme has always set the bar high in terms of our industry’s leadership and commitment to striving towards measurable change. We do not shy away from the role aviation plays in the climate emergency – it is one of the most difficult of industries to decarbonise. Yet in our connected, global world, working to a new paradigm following the crippling pandemic, our ambition to not only continue but to improve has never mattered more.”

“During the worst of the pandemic, airports around the world continued to achieve accreditation at all levels of the programme. In fact, since last March, 29 airports joined the programme for the first time and a further 22 achieved new levels of accreditation. We’re incredibly proud of their achievements. The introduction of these two further levels sets the bar yet higher. They bring the programme into line with the latest scientific and policy developments of recent years, and quite rightly reflect enhanced public expectations of the societal and environmental role we play. And already, airports are showing themselves able to step up.”

Praise for the programme from UNFCCC

The Airport Carbon Accreditation programme, and the ambition represented by the new levels announced today, has been applauded by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, said: “To achieve the deep transformation needed for sustainable development and stabilisation of global temperature, we must require commitments and participation from all sectors and levels of society. Airports have been severely hit by the Covid-19 crisis and yet, they are continuing their efforts to map and reduce their CO2 emissions year by year, as well as to engage their business partners in this endeavour. The programme went even further this year by introducing two new more ambitious levels, aligned with global climate goals. This is encouraging. I commend airports for this leadership; a signal that can set an example for others to follow with ambitious climate action.”

First accreditations at Level 4+ already achieved

At the ACI EUROPE Annual Congress today, it was announced that two airports have already reached Level 4+, the first in their respective regions to do so. Congratulations go to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in the United States, and to Indira Gandhi International Airport in India for their achievements.

Accepting their certification, Sean Donohue, CEO of DFW Airport said, “This recognition is the latest example of DFW Airport’s commitment to serving our community and our world with a comprehensive, holistic approach to sustainability. We continue to look for innovative and meaningful ways to reduce the Airport’s carbon footprint with mindful and responsible practices and processes. We can and will do more thanks to the focus and hard work of everyone at DFW Airport.”

Mr. Videh Kumar Jaipuriar, CEO, DIAL, said, “Achievement of the Level 4+ accreditation is a testimony of our commitment towards ensuring sustainable development at IGIA. Going forward, we will continue to develop best in class infrastructure and provide services using innovative and sustainable technologies. With this achievement, we have set up new benchmark for other airports in this region to follow.”

Rebranded programme to reflect today’s ambition – and readiness for tomorrow

To reflect the enhanced Airport Carbon Accreditation programme, ACI EUROPE today unveiled a renewed, fresh branding for the programme. Visually striking and encompassing all the new levels, the family of Level identities works seamlessly across all media and locations. And, with the programme ambition firmly fixed on the ultimate goal of Net Zero CO2 emissions, it’s future proof too – expanding and adapting along with the programme itself.