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Airport Carbon Accreditation is the only institutionally-endorsed, global carbon management certification programme for airports. It independently assesses and recognises the efforts of airports to manage and reduce their carbon emissions through 6 levels of certification: ‘Mapping’, ‘Reduction’, ‘Optimisation’, ‘Neutrality’, ‘Transformation’ and ‘Transition’. 

Through its 6 levels of certification, Airport Carbon Accreditation acknowledges that airports are at different stages in their journey towards comprehensive carbon management. It is a programme for airports of all sizes, extending beyond hubs and regional airports with scheduled passenger traffic, to include general aviation and freight-focused airports. 

Airport Carbon Accreditation is also the only global, airport-specific carbon standard which relies on internationally recognised methodologies. It provides airports with a common framework for active carbon management with measurable goalposts. The programme is site-specific allowing flexibility to take account of national or local legal requirements, whilst ensuring that the methodology used is always robust. 
Airport Carbon Accreditation strives to enable the airport industry to effectively reduce its carbon footprint, to benefit from increased efficiency through lowered energy consumption, shared expertise and knowledge exchange, as well as better communication of the results. The considerable number of airports certified at each level of the programme signifies clearly that regardless of size or geography, these airports are leading the way, actively lowering aviation’s carbon footprint on the ground.

How does it work?

Airports are at different points on the journey to becoming cleaner and more efficient. As the centrepoints of a complex web of aircraft movements, technical operations and surface access transport, airports can address their CO2 emissions in a variety of ways. These can include better insulation and energy efficiency, switching to green energy sources, investing in hybrid, electric or renewable gas-powered service vehicles, encouraging employees, passengers and visitors to use public transport, working with airlines and air traffic management to reduce runway taxiing times and implement green landing processes and much more.
Airports can participate in the programme at one of the four main progressively stringent levels of accreditation: 1. Mapping; 2. Reduction; 3. Optimisation; and 4. Transformation. In addition, airports at level 3 and 4 can choose to offset their residual emissions, thereby achieving level 3+ (Neutrality) and 4+ (Transition) respectively. 

In 2020, Level 4 (Transformation) and 4+ (Transition) have been added to the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme to align it with the objectives of the Paris Agreement to limit the increase of global average temperature to 2°C above pre-industrial levels and aim to not exceed 1.5°C.  Levels 4 and 4+ have been introduced as an interim step towards the long-term goal of supporting airports in achieving net zero carbon emissions. Level 4 and 4+ will therefore encourage airports to reduce their emissions in line with the latest scientific and political developments and meet growing public and stakeholder expectations.

To apply for certification at one of the 6 levels of the programme, airports must have their carbon footprints independently verified in accordance with ISO14064 (Greenhouse Gas Accounting) by one of the verifiers approved by the programme administrator. Evidence of this must be provided to the administrator together with all claims regarding carbon management processes which must also be independently verified.

6 Levels of Accreditation

The programme provides a unique common framework and tool for active carbon management at airports with measurable results. It covers the operational activities that contribute most to carbon emissions. It is site-specific and can be used at any airport as part of its daily environmental management activity and long term strategy as it helps to guide and support airports through a process of continual improvement and partnership with stakeholders.
At Level 1 ‘Mapping’ of Airport Carbon Accreditation, airports are required to measure and inventorise their carbon footprint.
At Level 2 ‘Reduction’ of Airport Carbon Accreditation, airports are required to set up their carbon management and progress towards a reduced carbon footprint.
At Level 3 ‘Optimisation’ of Airport Carbon Accreditation, airports are required to engage their third parties in carbon footprint management. Third parties include airlines and various service providers, such as independent ground handlers, catering companies, air traffic control and others working on the airport site. It also involves engagement on surface access modes (road, rail) with authorities and users.
At Level 3+ ‘Neutrality’ of Airport Carbon Accreditation, airports are required to compensate for their remaining carbon emissions that cannot be reduced by other means by offsetting.
At Level 3 ‘Transformation’ of Airport Carbon Accreditation, airports are required to align their carbon management ambition with the global climate goals and transform their operations with absolute emissions reductions in mind, while also strengthening their stakeholder engagement.
At Level 4+ ‘Transition’ of Airport Carbon Accreditation, airports are required to compensate for their remaining carbon emissions by offsetting. 

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