Achieving Carbon Transition by Acting on the Value Chain and Beyond

Guest Author by Guest Author | May 4, 2023
By Melina Santos Vanderlinder, Environmental Project Manager at VINCI Concessions, managing decarbonization of over 61 VINCI Airports around the globe.

Acting on the climate: three levers to move towards net zero emissions

It has been well established by science that to prevent the catastrophic consequences of climate change, we must achieve a net zero emissions balance by 2050.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the transportation sector accounts for approximately 19% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with aviation having a proportion of 1.8%. Considering that mobility industries are the engine of the global economy, it is urgent to shift to a low-emission economic development.

As the world’s leading private airport operator, VINCI Airports operates 61 airports in 12 countries across Europe, Asia, and the Americas. In 2016, it became the first airport operator to commit to an international environmental strategy, setting itself the aim of halving its carbon footprint by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions across its network by 2050.

The strategy, though precise and applicable to all its assets throughout the world, adapts to each local and geographical context, being able to achieve direct emission reductions, engage stakeholders, and make climate contributions by supporting sustainable projects with positive impacts on the environment and the people. 

Tackling Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions

In March of 2023, Lyon Airports in France and 10 other VINCI airports operated by ANA Airports of Portugal were certified on the highest level of the Airport Carbon Accreditation Program, Level 4+, “Transition”.

These airports demonstrated their alignment with the Paris Agreement by (1) defining a long-term carbon management strategy oriented towards absolute emissions reductions; (2) actively driving third parties towards delivering emissions reduction; and (3) offsetting the residual carbon emissions over which the airport has control, using internationally recognized offsets.

Both Lyon and ANA Airports worked on ambitious actions to tackle their Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, having achieved a 55% and 35% reduction of their direct emissions since 2018, respectively. The main action to achieve this, apart from energy efficiency, is the construction of photovoltaic farms, which are being deployed at all Portuguese airports, with the first unit at Faro Airport since 2022. In Lyon- St. Exupéry by 2024, a 14-hectares, 20 MW solar power plant will be commissioned on the airport’s parking lots and any additional electricity produced will be fed into the grid for the neighbouring communities. This will be the biggest solar plant in car-parks in an airport in France.

Across its global network, VINCI Airports has achieved over 44% reduction of its direct emissions by implementing energy efficiency measures, LED relamping (passenger terminal buildings, aprons, runways and taxiways, passenger carparks), renewable energy, low emission fleets, among other actions.

All the aforementioned initiatives respond to the core of VINCI Airport’s environmental strategy: being exemplary on their own scope, represent the first steps consistent with the global goal of achieving net-zero emissions.

How is VINCI Airports addressing Scope 3 emissions?

One of the most critical issues on the path to net zero is the collaboration with various stakeholders and third parties for the reduction of indirect emissions (Scope 3), both upstream and downstream. For our airports, these can represent the majority of emissions, ranging from 90% to over 95% of their total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

While technology and emerging innovations, like hydrogen-fuelled aircraft, will play an important role for Scope 3 reduction, there are several actions and strategies already in place to make an impact now:

Incentives schemes: VINCI Airports was pioneer in Europe with the deployment of an eco-modulation scheme for landing fees implemented since 2020. This bonus/malus relies on ICAO fuel consumption data base for calculating aircraft CO2 emissions and allows companies that emit less CO2 (more efficient fleet, use of sustainable aviation fuel) to benefit from a reduction in their landing fees.

Encouraging hydrogen and sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs):

  • Deployment of green hydrogen in Lyon, with a first gaseous hydrogen station for light vehicles in 2024. Production and distribution stations for gaseous hydrogen for ramp vehicles and heavy mobility, then liquid hydrogen for aircraft, will be built by 2025 and 2030, respectively, in the framework of the partnership between VINCI Airports, Airbus, and Air Liquide.
  • At Toulon Hyères Airport, VINCI Airports and WFS, holder of the fuelling contract, launched a SAF service available to commercial and business aviation companies. To distribute the 30% SAF blend with conventional kerosene, a 100% electric refuelling truck was chosen, maximizing the positive impact of this new service.In 2022, first commercial flights with sustainable biofuels (SAFs) at Lisbon, Porto, and Azores airports took place.
  • In 2022, first commercial flights with sustainable biofuels (SAFs) at Lisbon, Porto, and Azores airports took place.
  • SAF provision available at Clermont-Ferrand Auvergne Airport (from April 2021) and Grenoble Alpes Isère Airport.

Other solutions for airlines and passengers:

  • Opening of Portugal’s largest electric vehicles charging station at Lisbon Airport, and charging stations in airports in Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Dominican Republic, France, Japan, Serbia, and the United Kingdom.
  • Providing pre-conditioned air (PCA) and 400 Hz electrical supply systems for aircraft on the ground, to promote APU-off. In Lyon, all aircraft stations are equipped with 400Hz.

  • At Lisbon airport, in 2021, launching a tool for real-time monitoring of CO2 emissions during aircraft taxiing.

  • The commitment of the entire aviation industry with the creation, in 2021, of the “Portuguese Airports Carbon Forum”, in association with airlines, airport partners, town halls, and transport companies.

Financing carbon sinks

As an interim climate target, it is widely recognized that supporting projects with positive impacts on the people and the environment could contribute and complement the pathway to the net zero target.

Acknowledging this, VINCI Airports has decided to support nature-based solution projects by financing carbon sinks. A forest carbon sink program has been launched near the airports of Faro, Porto Santo and Lisbon, and, in Lyon, a network of forest and agricultural carbon sinks, with a Low Carbon Label, has been used to sequester residual emissions.

These projects are only meant to be additional tools to our emission reduction strategy, to enhance our positive impact using high quality projects, verified and certified by recognized standards, and to contribute to the global transition to net zero.

On-going commitment to aviation decarbonization

By certifying and periodically monitoring our actions by a third-party verifier under the Airport Carbon Accreditation program, VINCI Airports provides its customers, stakeholders, and employees the confidence that its global decarbonization strategy is robust and that we are on the right path to achieve the long-term transformational commitments to net zero. 

Melina Santos Vanderlinder is an Environmental Engineer with a masters in Sustainable Engineering in the developing world. Melina has 10 years of professional experience in environmental and social impact assessment, environmental and social due diligence, audits to comply with Lenders standards and development of environmental, social, health and safety management systems under ISO standards and International Finance Corporation (IFC) performance standards.

Her current focus is to support VINCI Concessions reduce their Scope 1 and Scope 2 carbon emissions and tackle Scope 3 carbon emissions to achieve Net Zero. Melina is also the vice-chair of Airports Council International Latin American and the Caribbean Environmental Committee.

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