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Home » Transport and Mobility » Innovative steps for airports to reduce carbon emissions

Andrea Carroll

Group Head of Sustainability, daa 

Delivering significant carbon emission reductions is challenging for the airport sector. 

Delivering carbon emission reductions is particularly challenging for the aviation sector, as airports play a key role in facilitating journeys. Apart from flights, airports generate carbon through activities such as vehicle movements, energy use in buildings and passenger journeys between terminals.

Fostering a climate-positive culture

daa, the company that operates Dublin and Cork airports, aims to reach net zero emissions by 2050 with initiatives to decarbonise buildings and the campus transport fleet while improving the local environment.

Group Head of Sustainability Andrea Carroll points to a transition away from fossil fuels into the generation of renewable energy from onsite renewables, such as its solar farm, alongside creating a climate-positive culture among its workforce and passengers. It has also signed up to the UN Global Compact — which encourages businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies — as part of its wider ESG position.

Three principles for sustainability

Decarbonisation; circularity with zero-waste operations; creating healthy local environments are three principles underpinning its sustainability ethos. Decarbonisation has become ‘everybody’s job’ within the business, says Carroll — with 130 personnel trained as sustainability ambassadors to identify areas for improvement. Decarbonising transport will be an important step for the almost 3,000 daa employees and the 20,000 who travel to and from work at the airport every day.

Decarbonisation has become
‘everybody’s job’ within the business.

Alternative fleet fuels

A shift away from fossil fuels has seen a switch to hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) as a transition fuel for heavy vehicles, such as tractors and snow ploughs, until an electrification option becomes available.

“The immediate impact is a 90% carbon reduction as compared to diesel fuel,” adds Carroll. “Providing our own renewables is going to be a key pillar of how we are going to decarbonise.” By 2025, its entire light fleet of vehicles at Dublin Airport will be electric, and daa is working with ground partners in its sustainable approach — and with the Government and airlines on sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

Air quality and diesel

As one of Ireland’s largest ground transport hubs, one area that remains challenging for air quality is the depot for diesel buses. They have looked at several options to address this and have seen promise in an innovative technology that uses microalgae installed at bus shelter walls to ‘filter specific pollutants out of the air.’

Carroll underlines the importance of the aviation sector showing leadership in the journey to net zero: “We are often seen as a hard sector to decarbonise; that’s why it’s more important for us to take on this challenge. After all, we have a world to connect, a future to protect.”

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