Airport Authority Goes Extra Mile to Appraise Impact of Planned Three-runway System
(HONG KONG, 19 September 2012) – Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) announced today that it will assess future carbon emissions and identify the most appropriate methodology to evaluate the social and environmental impacts of the planned three-runway system which go beyond the prevailing requirements of the statutory environmental impact assessment (EIA).
Kevin Poole, Deputy Director of Projects, AAHK said, "Carbon emission is both a local and global issue. This decision shows that we are serious about meeting and exceeding stakeholders' growing expectations for Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) to enhance its assessment and management of emissions that affect Hong Kong, both on the ground and in the air."
The AAHK and its business partners operating on the airport island have been conducting carbon audit covering facilities on the airport island since 2008.
Mr Poole said the carbon study for HKIA will be carried out in accordance with the Airports Council International's (ACI) Airport Carbon Accreditation Programme, in addition to the airport-wide carbon audit that has covered all major buildings, facilities and vehicle fleets on the airport island since 2008.
The carbon study will include quantifying emissions from aircraft taxiing, landing and take-off cycles, i.e., those affecting Hong Kong locally; future air traffic forecasts for the three-runway system; future aircraft fleet and engine mix; and future improvement areas for aircraft emissions. Future HKIA emissions will be estimated based on carbon management measures including all facilities, services and equipment for which HKIA has ownership and control, and compared to baseline emissions in 2011.
The Airport Carbon Accreditation Programme was launched in Europe in 2009 and extended to Asia-Pacific in November 2011. It independently assesses and recognises the efforts of airports to manage and reduce their carbon emissions, and is the only institutionally-endorsed carbon management certification standard for airports.
HKIA aims to achieve the "optimisation" level – the second-highest level of accreditation of the Programme and the highest one currently being pursued by airports in Asia-Pacific – which requires engagement with third-party operators such as airlines, ground handling and catering companies to reduce wider airport-based carbon emissions. Under this guideline, the scope of an airport's carbon footprint is widened beyond direct and indirect greenhouse emissions resulting from the consumption of purchased electricity to landing and take-off cycle emissions, surface access to the airport for passengers and staff, and staff business travel emissions.
The accreditation will place HKIA as the forerunner among airports in the Asia-Pacific region as well as on par with the 20 airports in Europe that have achieved the same level of accreditation.
Attainment is expected to help AAHK further enhance its management of HKIA's carbon footprint. In 2010, the airport community pledged to reduce airport-wide carbon emissions by 25% per workload unit by 2015 from 2008 levels. HKIA has since implemented more than 400 carbon reduction initiatives, achieving a 10% carbon intensity reduction in 2011 and putting it on track to achieve this goal.
Noting some stakeholders have requested that AAHK conduct more studies in addition to the statutory requirements under the EIA Ordinance using Social Return on Investment (SROI), Wilson Fung, Executive Director, Corporate Development, AAHK said, "We understand there is keen interest for AAHK to conduct studies to assess social and environmental impact and costs. However, SROI is an impact assessment methodology adopted mostly in small scale community or charity projects. The methodology itself is still evolving and there is a lack of commonly adopted methodology or standards of assessment. We are not aware of any developed countries (including European Commission and World Bank) having adopted SROI as a mandatory requirement for assessing infrastructural project proposals."
Mr Fung further explained that given the limitations of SROI, AAHK has conducted extensive research on global case studies of the assessment of impacts for infrastructure or transportation projects. "We have researched into various project evaluation approaches to better understand how social and environmental costs and benefits are commonly assessed elsewhere. Having taken into account relevant policy guidelines adopted by the World Bank, European Commission, United States, United Kingdom and Australia for evaluating transport projects, we hope to develop an evaluation approach that is most appropriate and suitable for the three-runway system."
Mr Fung said AAHK will identify practicable and feasible assessment approaches that are internationally recognised and can be applied meaningfully to the planned three-runway system project.
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