COP28: Christchurch Airport recognised for sustainability achievement

Aerial view of Christchurch Airport.
Photo Credit: Tim Ward/Airport Fire Service via Christchurch Airport Twitter X

COP28: Christchurch Airport, along with nine European airports, has achieved a historic milestone by attaining Level 5 in Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA).

This recognition, unveiled by the Airports Council International (ACI) at the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), sets a new standard for a net-zero carbon balance in airports globally.

Notably, Christchurch Airport stands as the sole representative from the Southern Hemisphere to achieve this remarkable feat.

The Road to Level 5

Olivia Jakovec, Director General of ACI Europe, emphasizes the significance of this achievement, stating that Level 5 establishes a reference framework for airports to achieve a net-zero carbon balance—a feat unparalleled in any other industry.

This accreditation represents a pivotal shift in addressing the role aviation plays in the climate emergency.

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At a dedicated side-event during COP28, ten world-leading airports, including Christchurch, Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Rotterdam-The Hague, Beja, Madeira, Ponta Delgada, Göteborg Landvetter, Malmö, and Toulon-Hyères, were presented with their Level 5 certification.

Photo Credit: Christchurch Airport/Twitter X

Criteria for Level 5 Accreditation

To attain Level 5 accreditation, an airport must meet several stringent criteria, including submitting a verified carbon footprint for Scope 1 and 2 emissions and all relevant categories of Scope 3 emissions.

Additionally, the airport must achieve and maintain ≥90% absolute CO2 emissions reductions in Scope 1 and 2, committing to Net Zero in Scope 3 by 2050 or sooner.

Furthermore, the airport must apply credible carbon removals for residual emissions, develop a comprehensive Carbon Management Plan (CMP), and establish a Stakeholder Partnership Plan.

This plan outlines steps to achieve Net Zero for Scope 3 emissions by engaging with the value chain and driving third parties at the airport towards delivering emissions reductions.

Christchurch Airport’s Achievement

Justin Watson, Chief Executive of Christchurch Airport, attributes this achievement to over 15 years of dedicated effort. He expresses gratitude to the team, assessors, ACA Asia Pacific team, and those who challenged the airport to elevate its standards.

Watson acknowledges the significant work ahead but highlights the commitment to decouple carbon from aviation.

Claire Waghorn, Sustainability Transition Leader, expresses pride in the team’s accomplishment, calling it a “moon shot moment.”

Despite recognizing the challenges in the aviation sector, she emphasizes the critical role aviation plays for isolated nations.

Waghorn outlines the ongoing efforts of Christchurch Airport, including the development of a renewable energy precinct, Kōwhai Park, and participation in initiatives like Sustainable Aviation Aotearoa.

Global Recognition

The Airport Carbon Accreditation program and the ambition embodied by Level 5 have received commendation from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Conor Barry from UNFCCC applauds the global airport industry for aligning with the goals of the Paris Agreement, while Juan Carlos Salazar, Secretary General of ICAO, hails Level 5 as a significant step toward decarbonization.

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