In 2016, the airport says it removed 10,000 tCO2 from the atmosphere, the amount it emitted that year. It has been investing in extracting carbon since 2011.
Based on its emissions effort in 2016, it became one of 37 carbon neutral airports, according to airport carbon accreditation.
These emissions relate only to the airport and exclude emissions from the growing number of flights in and out of it.
How is the airport removing CO2 from the atmosphere?
It buys carbon credits from Ecoact and South Pole. The money is invested in efficient wood burners for rural Kenyans and the construction of an electricity plant, powered by burning crop waste, in China. The hope is these projects compensate for the airport’s emissions.
Does this make Geneva Airport carbon neutral?
It depends on how you look at it.
If we add CO2 to the atmosphere without increasing the rate nature takes it out, it builds up. Dealing with this year’s CO2 doesn’t do anything to reduce past emissions that still linger on in the atmosphere for many many years.
Using assumptions from Yale Climate Connections, and a load of others1, we calculated that there might still be 200,000 tCO2 lingering in the atmosphere related to Geneva Airport’s past activities – this calculation is based on a lot of assumptions and is likely to be highly inaccurate.
If the world continues to ignore CO2 build up, focusing only on new additions, the build up will continue.
While Geneva Airport still has some work to do, it is proactively working on cleaning up its CO2 emissions.
By contrast, easyJet, the airport’s largest airline, says its aircraft emitted around 7,100,000 tCO2 in 20172, a 9% increase on 2016. According to the company’s corporate responsibility commitment, it appears to offset none of this – a link on the company’s website to a carbon calculator redirects to a page showing cheap flights to Nice. Its key emissions metric is emissions per passenger kilometre, a measure that ignores growing passenger numbers and will never lead to reductions in the stock of CO2 the airline continues to add to the atmosphere.
Geneva Airport press release (in French) – Take a 5 minute French test now
1 Geneva airport opened in 1920. Calculation assumes emissions increase from 1,000 tCO2 in 1920 to 10,000 tCO2 in by 2011 – 5,000 tCO2 on average. Annual rates of CO2 stock decline are interpolated between 0% and 50% during the first 50 years and between 50% and 70% over the following 50 years. This is a rough calculation with many assumptions and is likely to be highly inaccurate.
2 12 months to 30 September 2017.