As public pressure mounts on the aviation sector, airports are finding ways to reduce their carbon footprint

Every three years, the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) meets to discuss the biggest issues affecting the industry, its aim being to help its 193 member countries “share their skies and connect the world”. In 2019, what should have been a nine-day meeting was cut short by a day. The centre of the host city, Montréal, was all but impassable thanks to the presence of more than half a million protestors – including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg – calling on governments, corporations and individuals to take radical action to tackle climate change. It was a fitting sign of how the scrutiny being put on the environmental impact of various industries – aviation and beyond – is now impossible to ignore.

The ICAO responded with a message of support for the protests, acknowledging that international flights account for 1.3 per cent of manmade CO2 emissions each year, with aviation contributing 2 per cent overall. It stated that “action and faster innovation are now required to address aviation’s near and long-term impacts”.