Canada’s airports are on the runway to a greener future

Posted: 28 October 2021 | | No comments yet

Daniel-Robert Gooch, President of the Canadian Airports Council, gives International Airport Review, an overview of what Canadian airports are doing to advance aviation in its fight against climate change.


While the pandemic has been devastating, it was also an opportunity. Over the past few months, Canada’s airports have begun to reimagine the future: challenging past approaches and bringing partners together to create programmes that benefit their regions and residents.

As engaged members of their communities and socially responsible enterprises, airports in Canada and around the world view climate change as an important consideration in their long-term planning, committing to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and urging governments to provide the necessary support to reach this goal.

World leaders

Some of Canada’s largest airports are world leaders in carbon reduction initiatives, making their own aggressive carbon and waste targets. Edmonton International Airport (YEG) is the first airport in the world to join The Climate Pledge and its commitment to be carbon neutral by 2040. Toronto Pearson International Airport’s (YYZ) Carbon Neutrality & Emissions and Zero Waste Action Plans aim for the airport to be carbon neutral with net zero GHG emissions and reduce contributions to landfill from in-terminal and airside operations. The Vancouver Airport Authority has moved up its net zero goal by 20 years. Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is now aiming to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030 — the first airport in Canada to set this ambitious target.

It is not just the largest airports that are committed to greener operations. Through Airports Council International Europe’s (ACI-Europe) Airport Carbon Accreditation programme, 19 Canadian Airport Council (CAC) member airports are already taking strong actions to assess, manage and reduce their carbon emissions, working through the six levels of certification. This programme, which uses a common framework for active carbon management, enables our airports to follow a road map to effectively reduce their carbon footprint, benefit from increased efficiency through lowered energy consumption, and better communicate their results.

The Canadian government is following its own green policies by supporting airports’ carbon reduction plans with both new and existing funding programmes.

A new programme, the Airport Critical Infrastructure Fund (ACIP) is aimed at larger airports, and makes direct investments in critical infrastructure related to safety, security or connectivity. This programme, along with the National Trade Corridors Fund (NTCF) helps support major green infrastructure investments, such as light rail or other forms of public transit that connect airports directly to their communities.

The Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP) targets smaller regional airports with operational funding for safety-related airside projects, which allows airports to offset directly associated environmental costs and to upgrade airside mobile/ fleet equipment to more modern and sustainable options.

However, these programmes will either end too quickly or are already oversubscribed. To ensure a sustained and long-term strategy to reduce carbon waste at airports, a much longer government commitment would be needed.

Government support enhances what airports are already doing on their own. Along with their participation in the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme and carbon neutral commitments, Canada’s airports are continuing to make operational changes that make a difference.

For example, the CAC and its members have been working with Transport Canada and Environment Canada, advocating for the use of fluorine-free foam in their aircraft fire-fighting operations. The government agreed, and in June 2019 issued an exemption to the regulations so that Canadian airport operators would be allowed to elect to transition to a fluorine free foam, which is more environmentally friendly and currently available on the market and used in other countries.

Sustainable aviation fuels

Our airports also support the development and use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) including alternative fuels like hydrogen, which is a zero-carbon fuel, and biofuels, which can be produced from plants, or from agricultural, commercial, domestic, and/or industrial waste.

As well, airports are raising an awareness of recycling programmes and reducing waste. CAC and its members are working with the International Aviation Waste Management Association (IAWMA) to evaluate various approaches and programmes. It is an evolving process that will lead to enhanced and more effective measures at airports across the country.

We understand that the decarbonisation of the aviation sector will be a long-term endeavour that will require significant investment across the entire industry with additional support from governments. Canada’s airports are committed to do their part to fight climate change, reduce waste and promote a green future for generations to come.

GoochDaniel-Robert Gooch serves as President of the Canadian Airports Council (CAC). He previously served as the CAC’s director of communications and policy. As CAC President, Daniel oversees operations of ACI-NA’s Canadian division, leads Canadian government affairs and communications, and coordinates policy and regulatory efforts to effectively advance the airport industry within Canada. He serves as the committee secretary to the CAC Large Airport Caucus. Daniel has more than 25 years’ experience in marketing, public relations, and publishing, particularly in the aviation and technology sectors. Prior to joining the CAC, he was publisher and editor of Commercial Aviation Today, a Montréalbased daily electronic news publication for airline industry executives around the world. He also worked in marketing and media relations for U.S. and Canadian clients in the financial, healthcare and business-to-business technology sectors at firms in Atlanta. Daniel is a graduate of Concordia University, with a degree in political science and history.

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