Preposterous claim by Leeds Bradford airport to become “net zero” by 2030 (ignoring the planes)

Airports are very fond of making grandiose claims about their efforts to cut their carbon emissions, from their buildings and ground operations, and reduce their environmental footprint.  That is all very welcome.  But it is merely disingenuous and frankly misleading as the claims to be “net zero” or “carbon neutral” ignore the emissions from the flights, that happen because of the airport. Generally the emissions from the airport itself are around 5% – that sort of figure – of the total emissions generated by the overall activities of the airport and its flights.  Now Leeds Bradford – trying to expand number of flights  – is making claims about how it will be “net zero” (excluding flights) by 2030. The term “net zero” does not mean a lot. Emissions can only be “net” if offsets are bought – there are few offsets that are effective in genuinely reducing carbon, over decades.  Carbon capture and storage would reduce carbon, but it is many decades away, on any significant scale. As most passengers using the airport are people who live relatively near the airport, going on leisure trips, the airport is keen that they reduce the carbon impact of their trips to and from the airport. The airport CEO wants them to travel in electric cars …



Leeds Bradford Airport boss says it will become net zero regardless of new terminal being approved or not

The boss of Leeds Bradford Airport has said that the business will become net zero by 2030 even if its plan for a new terminal building are knocked back.

Vincent Hodder told The Yorkshire Post that the commitment to net zero had been carefully designed so as to be able to be enacted either with its proposed £150m terminal upgrade plan or with its existing facility.

The new terminal building was approved by planners in February of this year but is now being looked at by the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government with no date for review having been confirmed.

However Mr Hodder said that the drive to a net zero airport would be far easier and deliverable were the proposed upgrade to be approved.

“We have been very careful with this decision,” he said. “We will be net zero in 2030.

“The new terminal building will accelerate that plan and mean we can do it a bit earlier.

“In either case however we will be net zero. Any refurbishment of the existing terminal would not be as effective as it would be with a BREEM excellent rated building.”

The pledge to become net zero would see Leeds Bradford become one of only a handful of such airports in the UK, with only Bristol Airport currently having achieved the standard.

Mr Hodder insisted the pledge was not an attempt to persuade Government officials to back the new terminal and took aim at environmental campaigners who may characterise the plan as “Greenwashing” – a term referring to companies who promote unjustified environmentally friendly practices through branding and spin.

“It is very easy to throw out that term,” said Mr Hodder. “Green washing means putting lipstick on a pig or saying something that is not real or avoiding a real commitment.

“This is a robust, clearly defined, transparent and deliverable plan. There will be a quarterly report on its progress.”  [The habit of airports distancing themselves from the carbon emitted by the flights they facilitate has been referred to, by a veteran aviation campaigner, as “the brothel keeper’s excuse: “What the girls do upstairs is nothing to do with me” .

The move to net zero represents a £100m commitment from Leeds Bradford.

Mr Hodder, who was appointed CEO at Leeds Bradford in February, is a 20 year veteran of the aviation industry – one of the most polluting in the transport sector.

He insisted that aerospace sector was going to considerable lengths to clean up its contribution to carbon emissions and said that airlines are investing billions into new fleets and fuels that are less harmful to the environment.

“The sums of money involved are phenomenal,” he said. “I do not see how this can be perceived as green washing.”

Part of the drive to net zero will see Leeds Bradford attempt to encourage greener methods of transport to and from the airport itself, with Mr Hodder saying he wanted improved links to Yorkshire’s towns and cities.

“That is really quite sizeable in terms of emissions from surface access to the airport. We want to have big improvements in terms of links to Leeds, Bradford, Harrogate and York.

“We want people to drive here in electric vehicles. I acknowledge that the pricing of coming into the airport causes frustration but it is free to park here for 60 minutes if you are in an electric vehicle. We want to push more people into electric vehicles.”

When asked about the timing of a decision from Whitehall concerning the planned new terminal, Mr Hodder said: “It is a very long process. We are certainly not pinning all of our hopes on a positive outcome.

“I do not think the commitment to net zero will change any decision. That is not why we are doing it. It is the right thing for our business.”

Part of the plan will also see the airport’s chief operators commit to reduced emissions. has pledged to reduce CO2 per passenger by 10 per cent by 2030 and operate 50 per cent zero emission ground support equipment by 2023.

Similarly, Ryanair has committed to 60g CO 2 per passenger by 2030 and KLM has outlined a CO2 reduction path developed by Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) specifically for the airline industry in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.


See earlier:

New NEF report shows the climate impact of regional airport plans has been considerably underestimated

See original image in the Guardian article here

For UK to properly take account of the overall climate impact of UK aviation – it needs to consider the emissions from departing AND arriving flights (it currently ignores arriving flights). And also the non-CO2 impacts on climate. Maximum impact is multiplier of x3 (shown here). The multiplier could be x2.

report by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) says the climate impact of expansion plans at regional airports in England has been dramatically underestimated and would threaten the UK’s legally binding climate commitments.  NEF calculated that proposals to expand 4 airports (Bristol, Leeds Bradford, Southampton and Stansted) will lead to an increase in CO2 emissions up to 8 times higher than the airports previously claimed. This means the alleged economic benefits claimed, from more aviation, were overestimated, as they ignore around £13.4bn worth of climate damage the extra flights could cause. Alex Chapman, the author of the report, said the findings raised concerns about the level of scrutiny the airport expansion proposals had received from government. Alex said: “The secretary of state should step in and conduct an independent review of all four of these proposals and their compatibility with the UK’s climate targets.”  The airports all use unproven and undeveloped technologies to achieve future fuel-efficiency savings. Most airports only took account of CO2 of outbound flights, not of inbound flights, and ignored the non-CO2 impacts of flights.

Click here to view full story…

Leeds Bradford Airport: Scientists object to expansion plans which will increase CO2 emissions

A group of five climate scientists have objected to Leeds Bradford airport’s expansion plans as they make it “impossible” for Leeds to meet its greenhouse gas emissions target.  The airport wants to build a new terminal, but this would mean more flights and more passengers, and so more carbon emissions. The scientists said the expanded airport’s greenhouse gas emissions would be higher than the emissions allowed for the whole of Leeds in 10 years’ time. The airport could cause the emission of 1,227 kilotonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2030, compared to 1,020 kilotonnes allowed for the whole of Leeds in 2030. One of those objecting is Prof Julia Steinberger, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which advises the United Nations. The IPCC has warned that restricting global warming to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels will require “rapid and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”. The scientists say expansion would just represent “business as usual” and lock in higher CO2 emissions.  “If similar developments were replicated around the world, it would lock us into catastrophic climate change, which highlights that the proposed development is not only highly harmful but also unfair.”

Click here to view full story…