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13 October 2021updated 10 Nov 2021 7:56am

Handful of airports responsible for bulk of aviation emissions

In the first attempt to map passenger-related CO2 emissions from airports, the Overseas Development Institute reveals which airports are driving up emissions.

By Energy Monitor Staff

Nearly two-thirds of air passenger CO2 emissions have been created by just 100 airports since 2013, finds analysis from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). The not-for-profit studied 1,300 airports around the world.

People waiting inside Heathrow Airport in London, UK. (Photo by pio3 via

Historically, very little data has been available on the emissions created by individual airports, creating uncertainties as to who is responsible and what can be done to align the sector with global climate goals.

New data from the ODI’s ‘Airport Tracker’ reveals how concentrated airport emissions are; 86 of the 100 airports are in Asia-Pacific, North America and Europe. Only one is in Africa.

In Europe, ten airports account for 42% of the continent’s emissions. Of the ten, four are in the UK and Germany. London Heathrow is Europe’s leading polluter, with 16.2 million tonnes of CO₂ emitted annually, followed by Paris Charles de Gaulle with 11.5 million tonnes.

CO2 emissions from aviation – including airports and aircraft – reached one billion tonnes in 2018, or 2.5% of total global emissions. They have increased by 5% a year since 2013.

To limit global warming to 1.5ºC, net greenhouse gas emissions must halve by 2030 and fall to zero by 2050, the report states. Despite disruption caused by the pandemic, aviation remains off-track to achieve both targets.

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