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Sustainable Business 2019

Decoupling growth from carbon and making carbon the enemy, not aviation


Matt Gorman

Sustainability and Environment Director, Heathrow

Climate change is the biggest threat of our age and Heathrow is determined to take a lead and demonstrate that we are part of a sustainable solution.

As the UK’s only international hub airport and cornerstone of the UK economy, Heathrow can use its scale and reputation to change the way that its supply chain works, and influence the way that airlines and airports around the world approach the challenge.

Expansion at our airport — including a third runway by the middle of the next decade — isn’t a choice between the economy and the environment, it will deliver for both. While the industry has a challenge ahead of it in decoupling growth from carbon, we have proven it can be done. We have been able to reduce on airport carbon emissions by 37% since 1990 despite passenger numbers almost doubling (43m in 1990 to over 80m today).

Now we have set our sights on ensuring that airport infrastructure becomes carbon neutral by 2020, zero carbon by 2050 and that growth from expansion, including growth in flights, is carbon neutral. This starts with running our terminals on 100% renewable energy, investment in peatland restoration to offset carbon and plans to implement a strict Ultra Low Emissions Zone to target vehicles around the airport. But there’s much more to be done.

That’s why we have created a carbon neutral roadmap that sets out how we will work with the industry to achieve our targets as we grow. Our approach is to work with our partners to innovate, invest and incentivise to make our contribution to combatting climate change much broader than it is today. Through steps like our innovation grants, further investment in carbon capture projects, waiving landing fees for the first electric aircraft at Heathrow and by using sustainable aviation fuels, we know we can get there.

We can’t do it alone though. We need the public, government and industry partners to come on board and increase their support for new aircraft technologies, sustainable fuels, developing carbon pricing as well as new, effective ways of offsetting. I encourage everyone to take a look at our carbon neutral roadmap and keep an eye out for our innovation grants that may just help the next big idea take off.

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