Published on 08/11/2021

Groupe ADP commits to more eco-friendly air transport

From 31 October to 12 November 2021, world leaders gathered in Glasgow, Scotland, for the United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP26). It was an opportunity for Groupe ADP, which manages one of the world’s leading airport networks, to reaffirm its commitment to environmental responsibility and to reducing its carbon footprint.

Airport emissions (including emissions from aircraft on the ground and transport to the airport) account for 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions in air transport – which, as a whole, represents between 2-3% of all CO2 emissions. Aviation is one of the leading sectors in mobilising in the face of the climate emergency. In 2016, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) committed to halving CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 2005. In 2019, more than 200 European airports committed to achieving “net zero CO2 emissions” within their scope of responsibility by 2050 at the latest. Very recently, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) adopted a similar resolution, to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 for all member airlines.

Naturally, this is also the case for Groupe ADP, which has been engaged in practical efforts to limit the impact of its activities on global warming and to support the energy transition at airports for several years now. As such, it is among the first airport operators to have developed renewable energy solutions, such as geothermal energy at Paris-Orly, as well as biomass and solar power at Paris-Charles de Gaulle.

If the aviation crisis related to the COVID pandemic has had a lasting impact on traffic levels and therefore airport activity, it is also acting as a formidable accelerator of a trend, one that was already underway, which aims to reinvent a more eco-friendly airport model, inseparable from low-carbon aviation. Groupe ADP is fully engaged along with the entirety of its ecosystem and all stakeholders, including airlines, service providers, cargo and logistics companies, local communities, and more.  

The health crisis has only strengthened our desire to commit to the energy transition of our airports while supporting all our stakeholders in this transition. More resilient air transport inevitably requires ambitious environmental targets.
Amélie Lummaux
Chief Officer of Sustainable Development and Public Affairs

  • Left photo: Paris-Charles de Gaulle geothermal power plant
  • Right photo: view of the rainwater treatment system at Paris-Orly

A clear path towards zero emissions

The Group strengthened its approach in 2019 by setting itself on an ambitious path towards net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, in particular for its two large Parisian airports, Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly, which have already reduced their CO2 emissions by 71% on average per passenger between 2010 and 2020.

The next major milestone for Paris Aéroport will be achieving carbon neutrality (with offsetting) by 2030 at the latest
. To do so, the Group will work on five key areas of action: lower energy usage, sustainable construction and renovation of old assets, taking carbon costs into account, transitioning to renewable energies, and finally reducing emissions linked to mobility.

In the meantime, at the end of July 2020, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Paris-Orly and Paris-Le Bourget renewed their level 3 accreditation (Optimisation) as part of the ACA (Airport Carbon Accreditation) certification programme, promoted by ACI (Airports Council International): THE benchmark for the airport industry.

Managing impacts and commitments 

Groupe ADP’s environmental policy encompasses 6 key topics: air and emissions, energy, water, biodiversity, sustainable construction and development, and waste. For each of these areas, significant progress has been made to date at the Group’s airports. 

Air and emissions
33% of our fleet of light vehicles are already electric or hybrid at Paris-Orly and Paris-CDG.
100% renewable electricity in Santiago and Paris (geothermal, biomass, solar...). 28.4% gain in energy efficiency since 2015 at Paris airports.
Hyderabad awarded ‘Green Airports Recognition’ in 2019 and 2020 for its exemplary management. Rainwater recovery system deployed in Mauritius and filtering marshes at Paris-Orly.
No phytosanitary products used at Paris-Orly or Liège. 800 plant and animal species identified and protected at Paris airports since 2015. Reforestation programme at airports in Delhi, Santiago and Madagascar.
Sustainable construction and development
Delhi Terminal 3 classified LEED Gold in the ‘new construction’ category.
More than two-thirds of non-hazardous waste recovered at Paris airports. Agro-fuels produced from cooking oils used by company restaurants at Paris-Orly.

And what does tomorrow hold? Hydrogen and SAF: two ways to decarbonise air transport

The decarbonisation of European aviation (achieving ‘net zero’) is possible as part of a pathway that involves, in particular, sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and hydrogen aircraft, with the support of public authorities.

In fact, Groupe ADP has committed to exploring every possible avenue (electricity, biofuel, etc.) and to encourage breakthrough innovations, such as those related to hydrogen.

Indeed, the recovery plan for the French aviation sector and the announcement from Airbus of a hydrogen aircraft by 2035 have led Groupe ADP to initiate, as of now, a genuinely in-depth reflection and to select eleven winning projects following an unprecedented international call for expressions of interest known as ‘H2 Hub Airport’.

The idea is to envisage the necessary adaptations to airport infrastructure in order to meet the challenges around production, storage, distribution and liquefaction for refuelling aircraft with liquid hydrogen, but also to develop an entire virtuous ecosystem around new practices permitted by green hydrogen, in particular to decarbonise ground operations (ground equipment, ground handling operations, etc.). “Hydrogen is a real ‘game changer’ for moving towards CO2 net zero aviation by 2050 on a European scale”, explains Amélie Lummaux, who is planning the first trials using hydrogen on the ground at Paris airports from 2023.  

Groupe ADP is also working to promote the development of electric propulsion systems and use of sustainable aviation fuels, known as SAF. As for the latter, producing SAF from biomass, when it meets strict sustainability criteria, recovering residue and waste, as well as manufacturing synthetic kerosene, such as e-fuel (a mixture of CO2 captured from the tops of factory chimneys produced by hydrogen), are all avenues to be explored.

A first Air France long-haul flight from Paris-Charles de Gaulle carrying a significant portion of SAF (produced from recycled cooking oil) took place before the summer of 2021. “On SAFs, we’re stakeholders in 6 sustainable alternative fuel development projects in France”, stresses Amélie Lummaux. “The goal is to develop – by 2025 at the latest – sustainable fuel production in France capable of serving Paris airports” .

Ultimately, these major energy sources should prove to be complementary: short-haul flights and training aircraft at flying clubs would look to electricity, hydrogen for medium-haul flights, while SAFs would best serve long-haul operations. In fact, the airports of tomorrow will need to adapt to an entirely reinvented energy mix.

We’re preparing for the airport to become a place for distributing a wide variety of low-carbon energies, and hydrogen in particular; not only for aircraft, but also for all ground vehicles, and all vehicles that access the airport.
Augustin de Romanet
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Aéroports de Paris SA