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Australia’s Gold Coast Airport unlocks sustainable financing

August 21, 2019

A new concept linking investment and sustainability has been adopted by Queensland Airports Limited (QAL), the company operating 4 carbon accredited airports in Australia: Gold Coast, Townsville, Longreach and Mount Isa Airports. 

The redevelopment of Gold Coast Airport will be partly funded by AU$100 million of “sustainability-linked loans” from the Commonwealth Bank and Westpac. 

Sustainability-linked loans are a financing tool focused on a borrower’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance. The terms of the loan incentivise the borrower to improve the performance against pre-determined criteria.

Interest rates may be reduced, based on how well the company performs against ESG metrics. In the case of Gold Coast Airport, the loan was secured on the back of its carbon management performance under the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme – its current Level 2 ‘Reduction’ accreditation & the future progression to Level 3 ‘Optimisation’. 

The $100 million loan is the first of its kind to be taken out by an Australian airport with financiers recognising Airport Carbon Accreditation as a basis for performance metrics of the Sustainability-linked loans. The increased efforts to reduce the carbon intensity of Gold Coast Airport’s operations include replacing conventional lighting with LED, upgrading air conditioning units and installing energy efficient drive motors for the airport’s baggage handling system. 

Reducing carbon emissions has also been a key focus in the design of Gold Coast Airport’s southern terminal expansion which is currently under construction. The terminal expansion will include high performance window-glazing, energy efficient refrigeration, natural lighting and a sophisticated building management system that will efficiently control lighting and air-conditioning systems.

These initiatives have yielded over 6% reduction in Gold Coast Airport’s CO2 emissions to date compared to 2015 baseline levels, heralded by the achievement of Level 2 ‘Reduction’ of Airport Carbon Accreditation