Airports are strongly impacted by extreme weather events, whose frequency is expected to increase in the upcoming years due to the changing climate. Examples of how climate change can impact airport operations include:
- Warmer summers and colder winters raise electricity and fuel consumption used for chillers and boilers.
- Reduced precipitation affects water supply resources and exacerbates groundwater depletion.
- Changes in wind direction and speed increase sandstorms and fire risks and reduce visibility.
95% of direct emissions related to airport activities emanate from fuel and electricity consumption (Scopes 1 and 2). Several actions have been taken to reduce energy consumption over the past six years. The reduction in overall CO2 emissions between 2012 and 2019 reached 20%. In 2021, Airport International Group announced its commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and, accordingly, devised a road map for attaining this target per clearly defined actions.
During 2021, the carbon dioxide emissions generated directly by Airport International Group due to its fuel and electricity consumption amounted to 20,267 tCO2 with 22% lower than 2019.
In 2021 , emissions resulting from aircraft movement (including cruise emissions) and service providers (Scope 3) reached 542,282.15 tCO2 – noting a decline of 40% compared to 2019 (2020 was excluded due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
Since 2013, Airport International Group has been participating in the Airport Carbon Accreditation Program - the only voluntary global carbon management standard for airports - which encompasses four levels, as per the below:
Level 1 'Mapping': An airport must understand how much carbon it emits every year and from which activities and operations in order to plan its limitation. Therefore, as a first step, an airport needs to measure its carbon emissions, also known as its carbon footprint.
Airport International Group completed Level 1 in Q2 2013, soon after the QAIA New Terminal was inaugurated. This level was maintained throughout 2014.
Level 2 'Reduction': Once an airport has measured its carbon footprint, it can work towards reducing its carbon emissions. This process is known as carbon management and involves a diverse range of measures by which an airport should:
- Show it has a low carbon/energy policy.
- Show that a senior committee holds responsibility for climate change and carbon/energy matters.
- Have carbon/energy reduction targets.
- Communicate emissions performance to relevant stakeholders and undertake emissions awareness training for employees.
- Monitor fuel and energy consumption.
- Implement programs or control mechanisms to ensure operations minimize emissions.
In 2015, Airport International Group successfully completed the requirements of Level 2,
making QAIA the first airport in the Middle East to obtain the 'Reduction' level.
Level 3 'Optimization': This ACA level requires third-party engagement in carbon footprint reduction. Third parties include airlines and various service providers, such as independent ground handlers, catering companies and others working on site. Emissions related to service providers (Scope 3) must be measured and included in the carbon footprint report, as below:
· Landing and take-off cycle emissions.
· Passengers and staff surface access to the airport.
· Staff business travel emissions.
· Any other Scope 3 emissions that the airport chooses to include.
Level 3+ 'Neutrality': Carbon neutrality is achieved when the net carbon dioxide emissions over an entire year is zero. Achieving carbon neutrality at an airport is almost impossible without external help. For this reason, airports, among many other industries, look to carbon offsetting as the final part of the solution. Carbon offsetting is providing funds or resources to other projects that reduce carbon dioxide to make up for the emissions they cannot eliminate. For example, an airport could pay for a wind energy facility that replaces a coal-fired power plant.
In 2018, QAIA achieved the highest level of the ACA Program - Level 3+ 'Neutrality' - making it the first airport in the Middle East to achieve this distinguished accomplishment, which was successfully renewed in 2020 until 2022.
As clarified previously, offsetting carbon emissions generated from Scopes 1 and 2 is mandatory. For this reason, Airport International Group has retired a total of 20,267 CO2, which were offset by a 50.4 MW wind power project in India.
In 2021, AIG has chosen to adopt a Paris-based target to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and a 59% emissions reduction by 2035, compared to AIG's first published Scope 1 & 2 emissions inventory in 2012. This reflects an ambitious net zero pathway limiting global temperatures to 1.5ᵒC. Based on this projection, emissions in 2021 at QAIA should be in the region of 24,673tCO2. Actual Emissions in 2021 were 20,267tCO2 and are therefore 17.9% lower than the 2021 target projection
Level 4+ Transition
In 2021, Airport International Group adopted the global climate objective of the Paris Agreement to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and a 59% emissions reduction by 2035 - compared with the first published Scopes 1 and 2 emissions inventory in 2012 - limiting global warming to no more than 1.5ᵒC. Based on this projection, emissions at QAIA during 2021 should have been in the range of 24,673 tCO2, whereas actual emissions were 20,267 tCO2 - therefore 17.9% lower than the 2021 target projection.
In 2022, QAIA achieved the highest level of the Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) Program - Level 4+ 'Transition' - making it the first in the Middle East, the second in Asia Pacific and one of only 13 airports worldwide to achieve this distinguished accomplishment, which is valid until the renewal date in 2025.