Financing the green transition

Jennifer Desharnais, ACI World’s director of sustainability and environmental protection, explains more about the Airports of Tomorrow initative and new Green Transition Toolkit.

Airports have been at the centre of aviation decarbonisation, and they continue to be on the front line to provide and facilitate sustainable solutions and practices for the entire ecosystem.

The ACI Airport Carbon Accreditation programme stands as a testament, with over 555 airports actively engaged globally in reducing their carbon footprint. This programme is the only institutionally endorsed, global carbon management certification for airports, and positions them as leaders in the battle against climate change.

While airports have made significant strides in addressing Scope 1 and 2 emissions through measures like renewable energy production and efficiency enhancements, the true challenge lies in confronting Scope 3 emissions, which can reach 97% of their emissions profile.
To attain the audacious net zero by 2050 target, a bold collaborative effort across the entire aviation sector and its intricate value chain becomes paramount.

As the industry energy transition progresses, airports which cannot demonstrate progress towards decarbonisation, might face increased risks, such as restrictions on access to conventional finance, at least in the developed world. Private equity funds in climate-mature regions have begun to request full Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions disclosures, as well as emissions reduction targets.

In acknowledgment of these challenges, the World Economic Forum and ACI World have embarked on the Airports of Tomorrow (AoT) initiative. AoT serves as a nexus for discussions on energy transition elements. It provides analyses of decarbonisation solutions, ensuring the aviation industry stays firmly on track for net zero.

Covering sustainable finance, infrastructure and the concept of airports as energy hubs, sustainable aviation fuels, and innovation, AoT embraces a holistic approach to industry transformation.

As part of the sustainable finance pillar, the Forum developed the Financing the Airports of Tomorrow: A Green Transition Toolkit, in partnership with Oliver Wyman, ACI World, and sustainable mobility and airport infrastructure company Mundys.

The toolkit explores the decarbonisation measures that airports can take and breaks down the financing mechanisms available to them. It explores the near, medium, and long-term decarbonisation actions, as well as mapping financing mechanisms including commercial loans, development bank loans/ grants, and sustainability-linked finance, taking into account airport size and regional governing policy.

The publication also includes case studies and best practices, enriching airports with the necessary tools to secure capital for sustainability projects. In doing so, it seeks to help guide airports – especially smaller ones or those without government support – towards building compelling cases for both conventional and green financing.

Oliver Wyman underscores the toolkit’s importance, recognising that while airports may not be the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, they play a pivotal role in propelling the entire aviation industry towards decarbonisation. As the industry faces the capital-intensive endeavour of decarbonisation, the toolkit becomes an indispensable resource, offering not only a framework for mapping out decarbonisation strategies but also showcasing examples of airports successfully leveraging various financing options.

Bringing together more than 50 stakeholders from the aviation ecosystem, AoT addresses supply-side constraints linked to the industry’s net zero transition. This diverse group is made of airport operators such as Dubai Airports, original equipment manufacturers, aircraft operators, fuel producers, ground handling and airport service providers, engineering and construction firms, and financial institutions.

Knowledge partners, including McKinsey & Company, Kearney, and Oliver Wyman, also contribute expertise to drive strategic dialogue and find solutions for shared challenges, accelerating the net zero journey.

In essence, AoT stands as a critical platform, fostering collaboration and thought leadership to tackle the most significant challenges faced by airports globally. By establishing a cross-sectoral co-ordinated global vision, steering clear of fragmented approaches, and facilitating public-private consensus, AoT emerges as an enabler to future-proofing airports and unlocking greater benefits on their journey towards a sustainable and decarbonised future.

ACI World’s collaboration with the World Economic Forum through AoT is in line with our commitment to helping our members implement climate solutions that promote the growth and sustainability of airports worldwide. Our travellers and communities count on us.

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