Advancing Our Sustainability Journey

As this year is coming to an end, it is an excellent opportunity for us to look back. Despite the current challenges and business uncertainties, the Year 2021 has been a fruitful year with significant achievements made in various sustainability aspects. These include:
  • New airport-wide carbon target - We launched a new airport-wide carbon target of achieving Net Zero Carbon by 2050. This new target aligns with the industry net zero carbon goal and the HKSAR Government’s 2050 carbon neutrality target and demonstrates AAHK’s strong commitment and leadership in carbon management. More details about this new target are provided in the ‘Spotlight’ section.
  • Climate Resilience Study - The 18-month Study was completed which reaffirms that Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) currently has a high level of resilience and preparedness for the expected climate change impacts. As part of the Study, a climate adaptation and resilience plan was developed, setting out the actions we will be taking forward to further strengthen the resilience of HKIA to the emerging climate change impacts. Starting from this year, we are disclosing climate-related information in line with the Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
  • New waste target - We have also set a new waste target of increasing the recyclables recovery rate by 25% by 2025 compared to a 2018 baseline, to better reflect our efforts in increasing our recyclables capture rate.
  • Enhanced sustainability governance - Last but not least, a Sustainability Executive Taskforce was formed to drive and oversee the progress of key sustainability programmes, including the abovementioned initiatives. The Taskforce is chaired by CEO and attended by all Executive Directors. 
As we look ahead to 2022, our past efforts have laid a solid foundation for achieving high environmental performance in pursuit of the world’s greenest airport pledge and driving HKIA towards sustainable growth.

Peter Lee
General Manager, Sustainability
Airport Authority Hong Kong

Accelerating the Transition of HKIA to a Low-carbon Airport

AAHK launched a study in April 2020 to develop a long-term carbon reduction target for HKIA to determine the next carbon commitment for the airport. The study concluded with a new airport-wide target of achieving Net Zero Carbon by 2050.

Kristy Tan, Senior Manager, Climate Resilience of AAHK, shares more details on the new HKIA airport-wide carbon target, the HKIA decarbonisation roadmap and AAHK’s carbon management action plan to achieve the midpoint target.

Q: What is the new carbon target and what can you tell us about it?

I am very pleased to confirm that our new target is an airport-wide absolute emission reduction target:

‘AAHK and its key aviation-related business partners commit to achieve Net Zero Carbon by 2050, with a midpoint target of 55% absolute emissions reduction by 2035 from a 2018 baseline’

Similar to previous pledges the target is airport-wide, which means that we are once again including our aviation-related business partners into our target boundary, to ensure we maximise collaboration and accelerate carbon reduction at HKIA.  The new target aligns with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5°C scenario, HKSAR Government’s 2050 carbon neutrality target and the Airports Council International (ACI)’s Long Term Carbon Goal of Net Zero Carbon by 2050.

Having conducted extensive consultation with the airport community, 29 airport business partners have committed to join the Net Zero Carbon Pledge by 2050 and we look forward to working with them to transition HKIA to a low-carbon airport over the next few decades.

Q: What is the significance of the new carbon target?

Climate change is one of the most pressing global environmental issues of our time. Setting an airport-wide Net Zero Carbon Target demonstrates AAHK’s strong commitment and leadership in collaborating with the airport community to address the goals of United Nations’ Paris Agreement. In particular, we have moved away from intensity-based targets and committed to achieving a realistic absolute emissions midpoint target by 2035.

Q: Please briefly explain the development process of this new carbon target.

Internally, we set up a Working Group comprising members from various key functional departments such as technical services, airfield and terminal operations, etc. Regular meetings were held to seek their input and advice on the target-setting methodology, carbon emission projection scenarios, and carbon emission reduction pathways. We worked closely with our key internal stakeholders to seek their input and buy-in during the development of the long-term target.

As the majority of HKIA’s emissions are outside AAHK’s direct control, our capability to set and achieve an airport-wide long-term carbon reduction target is strongly influenced by external stakeholders. Throughout the Study, we engaged with various external stakeholder groups that will have significant roles to play along our Net Zero Carbon journey.

In parallel, we have consulted over 40 key business partners to explore reduction opportunities and to understand their key challenges and difficulties in achieving the long-term carbon reduction target. Their feedback provided valuable insight which enabled us to enhance the Business Partners Carbon Support Programme for the next pledge.

We also conducted in-depth consultations with the Environment Bureau, Business Environment Council, CLP Power and ACI to identify and understand key trends that might have impacted on our projections, as well as to explore additional opportunities for on-going carbon reductions at HKIA.

With the support of our stakeholders, we were able to finalise the bespoke target setting methodology and boundary, and model different carbon emission projection scenarios to help us come up with a forward-looking target and action plan. 

Q: What are AAHK’s strategies to achieve the new carbon target?

Recognising the urgent need to reduce absolute carbon emissions and achieve the midpoint target, we have established a carbon management action plan to reduce our direct and indirect emissions. Major initiatives include switching to electric vehicles and equipment, piloting renewable diesel at HKIA, transitioning to using low global warming potential refrigerants, increasing energy efficiency as well as exploring opportunities related to onsite renewables.

We will also continue to work closely with the airport community to accelerate carbon reduction at HKIA through our enhanced HKIA Business Partners Carbon Support Programme which includes key pillars on:
  • Finance - a dedicated Green Innovation and Technology Fund to help pilot new technologies and accelerate decarbonisation;
  • Governance - a structure comprised of key stakeholders across HKIA to tighten partnership and accelerate decision making;
  • Technology and innovation - an airport-wide approach to coordinate and streamline efforts to identify, evaluate and pilot new technologies; and
  • Capacity building - an airport-wide tailored capacity building programme in partnership with the Business Environment Council to develop the necessary skills and awareness required across the airport community to achieve the target.
In line with the other leading airports in carbon management, we aim to achieve ACI Airport Carbon Accreditation Level 4 ‘Transformation’ at our next renewal, which recognises airports that align their objectives with the Paris Agreement.
Background photo created by lifeforstock -
Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2050

In October 2021, the HKSAR Government announced Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2050, setting out the vision of ‘Zero-carbon Emissions ? Liveable City ? Sustainable Development’, and outlining the strategies and targets for combating climate change and achieving carbon neutrality.

Leading Hong Kong towards the goal of carbon neutrality, the plan highlights four major decarbonisation strategies and measures:
  • Net-zero electricity generation: Cease using coal for daily electricity generation, increase the share of renewable energy in the fuel mix for electricity generation, try out the use of new energy and strengthen co-operation with neighbouring regions.
  • Energy saving and green buildings: Reduce the overall electricity consumption of buildings through promoting green buildings, improving buildings’ energy efficiency and promoting a low-carbon lifestyle.
  • Green transport: Electrify vehicles and ferries, develop new-energy transport and measures to improve traffic management, cease the new registration of fuel-propelled and hybrid private cars, and test out hydrogen fuel cell electric buses and heavy vehicles.
  • Waste reduction: Develop adequate waste-to-energy facilities, promote waste reduction and recycling, and implement waste charging and regulate disposable plastic tableware.
Cathay Pacific’s Sustainable Aviation Fuel Commitment

Cathay Pacific (CX) has pledged to use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for 10% of its total fuel consumption by 2030. In 2014, CX invested in Fulcrum BioEnergy, a sustainable biofuel developer. As Fulcrum BioEnergy is scaling up its production, CX expects to use more SAF on its flights from 2024 onwards.

CX undertakes a multi-pronged approach towards a green recovery and long-term transition towards net-zero carbon emissions. Apart from increasing the usage of SAF, other key components include fleet modernisation, operational efficiency improvements, aviation and carbon capture technology innovations, and carbon offsets through its Fly Greener programme. Learn more
30th Airport Community Environmental Forum

AAHK hosted the bi-annual Airport Community Environmental Forum on 6 October for its airport business partners. During the event, AAHK provided updates on HKIA long-term carbon target, the Climate Resilience Study and the airport-wide Green Airport Design and Construction Strategy. External speakers were also invited to provide a briefing on the Public Engagement on Control of Single-use Plastics launched by the Council for Sustainable Development and to introduce the Food TranSmarter, which is the first-ever system in Hong Kong to automatically liquefy food waste into slurry for off-site recovery.
Release of AAHK Sustainability Report 2020/21

AAHK released its Sustainability Report 2020/21 in November, summarising its sustainability performance in 2020/21 across five key focus areas: ‘Airport City’, ‘World-class Gateway’, ‘Greenest Airport’, ‘Community’ and ‘Our People’. The report has been prepared in accordance with the GRI Standards: Core option and the GRI G4 Airport Operators Sector Disclosures and voluntarily disclosed in compliance with the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited Environmental, Social and Governance Reporting Guide.
42nd Airports Council International World Environment Standing Committee Meeting

ACI World Environment Standing Committee held its 42nd meeting remotely in early October. The four-day meeting started with updates by regional representatives from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America-Caribbean and North America, and then followed by discussion on roadmaps for ACI Long-Term Carbon Goal, sharing on airports’ adaptation and resilience strategy and an update on European Union climate policy development. The meeting also covered other topics such as sustainability strategy, sustainability reporting & environmental, social and governance metrics, alternative fuels, as well as sustainable transformation in a changing aviation ecosystem.
AAHK Sustainability Efforts Recognised

In December, AAHK received two renowned sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) awards, including a Gold Award in the Most Sustainable Companies and Organisations section (Public Sector/Not-for-profit (Large) Category) in the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ 2021 Best Corporate Governance and ESG Awards and the Hong Kong Sustainability Award 2020/21 (Large Organisation Category) organised by The Hong Kong Management Association.

These two accolades commend AAHK’s commitment and continuous efforts in operating a sustainable airport and upholding high standards of corporate governance.
We are eager to share and showcase environmental and sustainability practices. Please contact Tammy Fung and Iris Pang to discuss your ideas.
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