Airports offside with offsets

Carbon offsets excluded under EU climate laws are being purchased by airports to help them achieve a voluntary target of ‘carbon neutrality’, it has emerged. Research conducted by T&E found that the Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) programme has only vague guidelines on what types of offsets may be used and airports are not required to publicly disclose which offsets they purchase.

As a result airports are purchasing offsets which would not qualify under EU climate laws. For example, Milan Airport purchased offsets from a large hydro-dam which later collapsed causing enormous damage. Also, Athens airport relied on wind farm offsets originating in China – offsets which are unlikely to deliver additional emissions reductions and are banned from the EU ETS.

T&E said that while airports’ efforts to reduce their emissions are welcome, it is concerning that airports have been found using offset project types which are highly unlikely to deliver promised emission reductions and which would not qualify for the EU ETS. The claims of carbon neutrality therefore cannot be credibly maintained without serious reforms to this programme.

Andrew Murphy commented: ‘These findings are especially relevant as governments finalise rules for a global offsetting scheme for international aviation, due to be adopted by the UN aviation agency later this month. Avoiding the mistakes of this programme should be the key aim.’