Airports lead the way on tackling Climate Emergency with Brussels Summit

22 January 2020
European airport trade body brings key actors together for first Aviation Sustainability Summit today

Brussels - With sustainability & the climate emergency firmly established at the very top of its priorities, ACI EUROPE is today holding its first Aviation Sustainability Summit in Brussels. The event, which is held under the patronage of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and István Ujhelyi MEP, brings together key stakeholders from the EU institutions & Member States, EUROCONTROL, airlines, AIRBUS, NGOs, community representatives and airports.
The Aviation Sustainability Summit focuses on two main topics: the need to decarbonise aviation in line with the EU 2050 Climate Neutrality objective and ways to achieve more sustainable airports. The keynote address is delivered by Ovais Sarmad, Deputy Executive Secretary of UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). The European Commission’s DG Move’s Director General (Henrik Hololei) and the Director for European and International Carbon Markets at DG CLIMA (Beatriz Yordi) are also participating, alongside C-suite industry representatives.
Opening the event, Jost Lammers, President of ACI EUROPE said: “Our purpose with this high-level Summit is to bring together all stakeholders to play their part in responding to the Climate Emergency and aligning with the European Green Deal. The challenge we face in fully decarbonising aviation is daunting, as we have no silver bullet to get there. But there is no escape; the aviation sector needs to complement its current CO2 reduction targets with a long-term ambition for Net Zero. As airports, we are thrilled to see some European airlines taking the lead to move in that direction – along with us.”
He added: “We need to look at and work on every possible effective tool to get to Net Zero – from meaningful ATM reform, Sustainable Aviation Fuels, R&D in new propulsion to CORSIA and the EU ETS as well as intermodality. The complexities involved require industry, NGOs and policy makers to more than ever closely cooperate, so that we can chart the way forward and deliver.”
Within the context of its Sustainability Strategy for Airports1, ACI EUROPE has pioneered a bold approach in setting industry targets aligned with the Paris Agreement and the EU Climate Neutrality objective. Last June, ACI EUROPE launched its “Net Zero 2050” pledge2 which commits the whole European airport industry to eliminate the carbon footprint under its control at the latest by 2050. Over 200 airports have undersigned the Net Zero 2050 pledge, with a further 8 announced at the Summit today. These are Antwerp, Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg, Birmingham3, La Rochelle, Marseille-Provence, Newcastle4, Ostend-Bruges and Zagreb.
In his keynote address, Ovais Sarmad, Deputy Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, singled out the airport industry’s programmes: “I wish to applaud ACI’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme and the European airport industry’s Net Zero commitment. You provide an example of bold - necessary – action on climate change, that is an example to the rest of the aviation industry, and in fact all industries”.
Alongside the Net Zero 2050 commitments, a number of airports have further refined and accelerated their plans towards Net Zero:
  • 3 regional airports in Sweden, operated by Swedavia, have already achieved net zero carbon emissions, without any carbon capture. They are Lulea, Ronneby and Visby. The further 7 airports managed by Swedavia - including Stockholm-Arlanda - are on course to be net zero during the coming year.
  • In December 2019 Athens Airport announced its “Route 2025” commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2025 and planning to become the first European airport operator to generate 100% of its electricity on-site based on renewables (solar).
  • In the last week, the Aeroports de la Cote d’Azur Group revealed its plans to emit zero greenhouse gases 20 years earlier than previously announced. The Group set out a series of measures to completely eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by the three airports it operates: Nice Côte d’Azur, Cannes Mandelieu and Golfe de Saint-Tropez, bringing forward the 2050 commitment to achieve this target in just 10 years.


  • Note to editors

    1View the Sustainability Strategy for Airports here

    2View the ACI EUROPE Resolution on Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 here

    3Birmingham airport has committed to achieve Net Zero by 2033

    4Newcastle airport has committed to achieve Net Zero by 2035

    FAQ on Airports and the NetZero2050 Commitment


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Alexandre de Joybert
Head of Sustainability