ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu opened the UN aviation agency’s Seminar on Green Airports last week at its Headquarters in Montreal.
The seminar was organized to permit ICAO Member States and industry stakeholders to exchange ideas on the latest technological, operational and policy advancements with an environmental focus which can assist the ongoing efforts of airports globally to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and assure more sustainable operations.
“There are presently close to 400 airports worldwide which are either under construction, undergoing major expansions, or are at advanced planning stages for related objectives,” remarked ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu in her opening remarks. “This represents a 25 per cent increase compared to 2016 and this growth trend is being driven by an ever-increasing demand for air travel.”
Dr. Liu reiterated to the audience of environmental and policy experts that current air traffic flight and passenger volumes are projected to double in just 15 years’ time, and that so would aviation’s ability to increase tourism and trade and foster many other sustainable socio-economic benefits for civil societies globally.
“This underscores why it is so important today that future increases in air transport capacity are managed by airports which have been built or modernized on the basis of the most effective environmental policies and capabilities available,” she stressed. “2016 was a record year for the installation of renewable energy capacity worldwide, and in parallel, the cost of solar photovoltaics have decreased by 80 per cent, and the cost of wind energy by 30 per cent in just the past five years. We can take this as a historic turning point in our efforts to design and realize sustainable airports.”
Among the topics discussed at the important environmental awareness event was the effective management of environmental impacts at airports, certification schemes for operators, clean energy solutions from wind, solar, biomass, and tidal energy sources, sustainable mobility initiatives, climate adaptation and resilience, community engagement, the financing of environmental projects and current investor expectations, and the key benefits of sustainability monitoring, reporting and outreach.
Angela Gittens, Director General, Airports Council International (ACI) highlighted that “We can all agree that aviation, and airports in ACI’s case, have come a long way in minimizing their environmental footprint. I am proud to affirm ACI’s commitment to working with aviation stakeholders and helping our Members on the full range of environmental performance.”
During the event, ICAO, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union (EU) launched a compendium of new guidance material, tools and resources for governments which had been developed under various capacity-building and assistance projects. These are intended to provide States with information on how to implement measures to reduce CO2 emissions from international civil aviation.
ICAO also launched an e-learning course for the preparation of States’ Action Plans on CO2Emissions Reductions during the seminar, developed in cooperation with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), and with the financial assistance of the EU under the framework of the ICAO – EU Assistance Project Capacity building for CO2 mitigation from international aviation.
“The purpose of this event is to be thought-provoking, and to encourage us to question business-as-usual practices,” Secretary General Liu highlighted. “The guidance material, new tools, and resources we are delivering here showcase ICAO’s commitment to partnerships and capacity-building, in the spirit of our No Country Left Behind initiative, and towards States’ full attainment of the Agenda 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals”.