Reducing our carbon impacts

Climate change is a real and present issue for our community. We acknowledge the impacts of the airport on climate change and have been working towards reducing our carbon impacts.

We developed an Energy and Carbon Strategy in 2013 to provide a targeted road map for the airport’s energy and carbon management. We've also joined the Airport Carbon Accreditation program, with the goal of reaching carbon neutrality.

Carbon emissions performance

As part of our own commitment to sustainability, the environment and our customers, Sydney Airport is working towards a cleaner energy supply, and more specifically, carbon neutral operations by 2025.

In 2018, our Scope 1 and 2 emissions declined slightly in 2018 to 86,916 t CO2e. This is a result of small reductions in Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions (4.4% and 0.8% respectively).

Sydney Airport’s Scope 3 emissions are primarily made up of aircraft landing and take-off cycle (up to 1,000 metres), and surface access, which includes passengers, greeters/farewellers and staff travel to and from the airport. The balance is from a range of sources including tenants, aircraft APU use and ground support equipment. Scope 3 emissions in 2017 were 1,121 kt CO2e, up from 953 kt CO2e in 2016.

A number of our sustainability commitments support improved emissions performance, including:

  • supporting a wide range of transport modal options to facilitate access the airport, including buses, trains, active transport and rideshare
  • working with airport partners to improve airfield and airspace efficiency through Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) and providing aviation infrastructure
  • providing ground power units and pre-conditioned air at gates to allow aircraft to use electrical power in place of the Auxiliary Power Unit

To learn more about our sustainability commiments and initiatives to reduce emissions, read our latest Sustainability Report.

Emissions (t CO2e)*20142015201620172018
Scope 15,0245,3495,7465,8265,569
Scope 285,42582,99979,89882,06281,347
Total Scope 1 & 290,44988,34885,64487,88886,916

*Emissions data reported for the period July to June and calculated in accordance with the National Greenhouse Accounts Factors 2013. Excludes emissions from tenants and T3.

Recent significant achievements

In recent years, we've:

  • committed to working with the international aviation industry to target carbon neutral growth by 2020, by using cleaner fuels, including renewable non-carbon biofuels, and more fuel efficient aircraft
  • achieved Level 3 of the Airport Carbon Accreditation program, an international certification program designed to assess and acknowledge airports’ efforts to manage and reduce carbon emissions
  • provided electrical power and cool air from terminal facilities to parked aeroplanes, so they no longer have to rely on jet fuel-powered eNotngines to provide power and cabin air conditioning
  • invested $128 million in airfield and terminal infrastructure to accommodate new generation, fuel efficient aircraft
  • introduced a new lighting system in the T2 car park, reducing energy use in the car park by 30%
  • installed energy efficient lighting on the Departures roadway at T2 Domestic, and solar hot water at T1 International, to reduce energy usage
  • offset the emissions from the airport’s vehicle fleet by planting about 1,600 trees each year since 2006
  • achieved a five-star Green Star (office design) rating for our corporate office in the Central Terrace Building. Its environmentally sustainable design includes recycled concrete, GECA certified workstations, recycled water for toilet flushing and staff facilities to promote cycling

Future directions

We're committed to:

  • targeting an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per passenger
  • investigating the use of alternative cleaner energy such as solar energy for airport developments
  • continuing to calculate and report on carbon emissions, both directly from ground activities at the airport site and from aircraft using the airport, to help inform future actions
  • continuing to explore the use of both electric ground vehicles and alternatively fuelled vehicles
  • progressing through the Airport Carbon Accreditation program to achieve higher levels of accreditation. We will continue to implement energy saving and efficiency initiatives, working towards our ultimate target of carbon neutrality

We're Airport Carbon Accredited

We became Airport Carbon Accredited by Airports Council International (ACI) under its carbon standard for airports in May 2014. We now have Level 3 certification.


History of Airport Carbon Accreditation

In 2008, Sydney Airport signed the Global Aviation Industry Commitment to Action on Climate Change. Signing the agreement was an important demonstration of aviation’s worldwide voluntary commitment to researching and introducing technological, operational and efficiency advances that will reduce aviation’s contribution to climate change and reduce its impact on the environment.

Following the Global Aviation Industry Commitment to Action on Climate Change, the Airports Council International (ACI) Europe made a commitment to assist member airports to assess and reduce their carbon footprint through Airport Carbon Accreditation.

The overall aim of the Airport Carbon Accreditation is to provide recognition of improved performance in carbon and energy management and to encourage the development of management practices that support the principles of Carbon Neutrality, in line with policies adopted by the ACI World’s General Assembly in November 2007. It's the only industry-specific, performance-based, voluntary and institutionally-endorsed accreditation label designed specifically for airports. The four levels of accreditation enable all airports to participate at different stages on their journey to carbon neutrality.

In 2014, the ACI prepareed the following video to celebrate its first five years of the carbon accreditation program.

Our carbon footprint

We've mapped our carbon footprint for a number of years and reported this information to the Australian Government through the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007.

We're committed to reducing our scope 1 and 2 carbon footprint, which are the emissions that we have direct control over. More than 98 per cent of our carbon footprint comprises electricity and gas, used for heating, cooling and lighting at our terminals.

Our Energy and Carbon Strategy 2013+, and Energy Savings and Carbon Reduction Plan, guide this work. The strategy includes nine strategic elements that form an energy roadmap to guide our sustainable energy use. The plan complements the strategy and identifies new energy savings, greenhouse gas emission reduction and opportunities for greater energy efficiency.

Airport Carbon Accreditation recognises our work and supports our target of carbon neutral growth from 2020. It demonstrates our contribution to our voluntary action to help reduce the aviation industry's impact on the environment and to grow sustainably.

Read more about Airport Carbon Accreditation