Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur: today carbon neutral, tomorrow 0% emissions
Since the early 2000s the Group’s three airports on the French Riviera have been committed to a voluntary and ambitious initiative to reduce their carbon footprint; they have now set themselves a new challenge: to reduce CO2 emissions to zero by 2030 and to switch from offsetting their own residual emissions to removal - of not only all their own emissions, but also in part those of the planes landing at their airports.
As a result, on the 15 January 2020, the Aéroports de la Côte d'Azur Group announced, 20 years ahead of its original schedule, its commitment to no longer emit a single gram of CO2 at any of its three airports. This unique pairing of the environment and the future is based on a clearly defined agenda which, with each action, and as technical opportunities become available, will be openly released to the public.
This ambition has been praised by Dr Bertrand Piccard, founder and President of the Solar Impulse Foundation: “I admire companies who readily set themselves ambitious targets. In view of their goal of Net-Zero Emission by 2030, Aéroports de la Côte d'Azur is a pioneer and an example to follow in the aviation sector."
In practical terms, the Group’s three airports, following their own schedule and according to their own specific characteristics, will implement various solutions to eliminate the use of fossil fuels, develop the production of solar-powered energy, support the emergence of new fuel sources or even create on-site carbon sinks to capture residual emissions or aircraft emissions.
A natural continuation of already-positive actions
This commitment, the only one of its kind in the aviation industry, is part of the array of actions already implemented for some years by the Group to reach carbon neutrality, a milestone the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport successfully achieved in 2016 and Cannes Mandelieu and Golfe de Saint-Tropez airports in 2018.
As of 2011, the Group has been committed to the independent Airport Carbon Accreditation programme to achieve its most stringent 3+ level, in 2016 for Nice, and in 2018 for the entire Group, thus becoming the first carbon-neutral airport group in France.
This accreditation recognised efforts taken to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions directly attributable to airport management activities: emissions from buildings, ground equipment, vehicles, employees, etc.
This is why, in 2019, independent calculations at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport estimated the volume of greenhouse gas emissions per passenger passing thorough the Nice terminals at around 71 grams of CO2 equivalent. This volume is four times lower than in 2012, despite the number of plane movements increasing by 3% over the same period.
Finally, before reaching the point where we no longer emit greenhouse gases and are able to remove emissions resulting from aircraft operations (which are therefore out of our direct control), the Group continues to offset its emissions.
In 2019, 1961 tonnes of CO2 equivalent were offset with three projects and by following a calculating methodology certified by the United Nations:
- the creation of wells in Rwanda by SouthPole Group;
- the development of organic waste composting units in Togo, Cameroon and Madagascar by the Good Planet Foundation;
- the capture and recovery as energy of methane emissions from the Santa Maria waste processing plant in Chile;
- and finally an operation to raise awareness and protect the Prealps north of Nice by Avvena.
In October 2020, two further levels - level 4 (transformation) and level 4+ (transition) - were added to the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme
The three airports of the Aéroports de la Côte d'Azur Group are level 3+ (neutrality).
They will achieve level 4 and 4+ by 2030, before finally reaching level 5 (to be confirmed), which will be the level of Net Zero Emissions.