The environment is becoming an increasingly prominent subject in Canada. Canada’s airports already are doing their part to be responsible corporate citizens.

Airport construction projects have been conducted in such a way that most of the materials pulled out of older terminals are being recycled elsewhere. The latest technologies also are being employed in heating, ventilation and air conditioning to improve energy efficiency. And the use of chemicals, such as glycol for de-icing, is handled responsibly so as to minimize the impact on the environment.

Aviation and Emissions

Canada’s airports recognise that while aviation is an industry with a tremendous economic value to Canada it has an environmental impact, although estimated at just 2% of emissions worldwide.

While air travel has continued to grow, Canada’s aviation sector is taking practical steps to limit emissions and the impact of air travel on the environment. From more fuel-efficient aircraft fleets to operational changes to reduce taxiing times, Canada’s aviation sector stakeholders are working together to reduce aviation’s impact.

Canada’s airports also are working to dispel myths about the impact of aviation on the environment. Did you know that:

  • Aviation accounts for just 2% of worldwide CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use. This could reach just 3% by 2050.
  • At 23%, Transport is tied for third with agriculture for global greenhouse gas emissions, after power and the land use sectors.
  • Aviation is responsible for 12% of CO2 emissions from all transport sources, compared to 76% from road transport.
  • Some 80% of aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions are from passenger flights exceeding 1,500 km, for which there is no practical alternative.
  • Today’s aircraft are 70% more fuel-efficient than they were 40 years ago and aircraft operations are already 20% more fuel efficient in the past 10 years.

It is important to know that the aviation sector is active and engaged every day in meaningful mitigation and reduction strategies that have a real and positive impact on reducing our environmental impact.

These include the comprehensive and internationally recognized Airports Council International (ACI) Airport Carbon Accreditation program (with 14 Canadian airports signed on to date, and more getting on board); strategic investments in electric ground support equipment and vehicles, LEED certified new buildings; the increased focus on development of sustainable biofuels and the modernization of air traffic management to increase efficiencies and reduce fuel usage.

Canada’s airports are proud of the contributions they make to Canadians’ economic and social opportunities – and just as proud of how far we have come as responsible and responsive global citizens combatting climate change.

The CAC: An Active Supporter of Enviro.Aero

The CAC’s international partner, Airports Council International, is an active supporter of the Enviro.aero Web site.

There are many myths and untruths about aviation’s impact on the environment. Enviro.aero was designed to set the record straight, and contains detailed information about climate change, the environmental impact of flying, and progress made over the past 50 years to improve emissions. It also provides information about carbon offsetting and emissions trading schemes.

Enviro.aero was developed through an organization known as the Air Transport Action Group. ATAG is the only global industry association that brings together organisations and companies throughout the air transport chain that are committed to achieving infrastructure improvements and addressing the environmental challenges facing the industry. Its members include airlines, airports, manufacturers, and air navigation services providers.

PFAS in the Airport Industry

Per-and Polyfluoralkyl Substances (PFAS) are a group of human made chemicals that have been used since the 1940s in a wide variety of products, including non-stick cookware, stain-resistant fabric, water-repellent clothing, and firefighting foam. For many years, Transport Canada required airports to use firefighting foam containing PFAS, as the agency previously determined that only PFAS-based firefighting foam had the ability to quickly extinguish any fires, including those involving aviation fuel. However, some of the properties that make PFAS excellent at suppressing fire — its ability to smother a fire, its resistance to thermal breakdown, and its ability to be stored for long periods of time — also contribute to environmental concerns because the substances do not easily break down.

Recently, the Canadian Airports Council and member airports have successfully lobbied Transport Canada to allow the use of non-PFAS-based firefighting foam, provided it meets all the minimum international aviation safety requirements.