Carbon

It is our long term aspiration to make growth from our new runway carbon neutral. We have also made a commitment to operate zero carbon infrastructure, including buildings and other fixed assets by 2050.

International flights are by far the largest source of emissions. To address these, the international aviation industry has put in place a scheme known as CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation). CORSIA has been set up by the United Nations to deliver “carbon neutral growth” from 2020 by offsetting the growth in emissions from international aviation.

Growth in CO2 emissions from additional flights after expansion will be largely offset through CORSIA but we are exploring options to offset all the growth in emissions from flights.

The Airports NPS requires us to ‘report’ our carbon emissions to Government so that they can consider whether they would materially affect the ability of the UK to meet its overall reduction targets, including carbon budgets.

What does "carbon" refer to in this consultation?

‘Carbon’ is used in this consultation to refer to carbon dioxide and other Greenhouse Gas emissions. Carbon from flights makes up over 96% of the carbon and greenhouse gas emissions from Heathrow, with surface access contributing 3%.

Aspects of our proposals that could cause effects

Construction, air transport, surface transport, airport buildings, and ground operations within and beyond Heathrow’s boundary all create carbon emissions.

A summary of the effects reported in the Preliminary Environmental Information Report (PEIR)

Carbon emissions will occur in all phases of development, over a long period of time. Although international air transport is by far the largest contributor of emissions from the Project, emissions will also arise from surface access transport, airport buildings, and ground operations.

There is currently no agreed threshold at which the volume of carbon emissions is considered to be  ‘significant’ in EIA terms, but they contribute to climate change, regardless of where or when the emissions occur. We have therefore reported in our preliminary assessment that the Project will have a significant negative effect, as carbon emissions contribute to global climate change.

Our assessment has also considered carbon emissions in relation to UK policy and legislation on climate change. The carbon emissions from an expanded Heathrow are calculated to be equivalent to 1.2% of the UK 2050 carbon target set by the Climate Change Act 2008. This comparison excludes greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation, which are not included in current UK carbon budgets or explicitly in the UK’s 2050 target. Heathrow’s contribution to total emissions from international flights departing the UK in 2050 remains comparable to today.

Expansion at Heathrow is not considered to materially affect the ability of the Government to meet UK carbon reduction targets.

Measures for reducing potential effects

There are many opportunities for the Project to reduce carbon emissions, these include:

Construction design:

  • Use of rail access, to allow more materials and waste to be transported by rail rather than road.
  • A reduction of the volume of construction materials and the use of materials with lower embodied carbon.

Air Transport:

  • The airfield will be designed for efficient operations, including reduced taxiing distances for aircraft.
  • New technology will be installed at aircraft stands to reduce the need for aircraft to use their own power. Fuelling infrastructure will be capable of distributing sustainable aviation fuels.
  • We are looking at ways to speed up the uptake of more carbon-efficient aircraft through aircraft operator charges.
  • Much of the growth in air transport emissions from the Project will be offset by airlines (through international agreements). We are engaging with airlines and governments to encourage sustainable operations.

Surface Access:

  • New employment is located close to public transport hubs, such as the Central Terminal Area and Hatton Cross rail station which makes it easier for people to use public transport.
  • The road design will meet future traffic requirements, reducing the risk of congestion; something that leads to increased carbon emissions.
  • Vehicle charging points are included in the design to encourage the use of low emission electric and hybrid vehicles.

Airport buildings and ground operations:

  • The design includes energy efficiency features, low carbon energy generation and a range of measures to improve the management of waste, materials and water.

Our assessment of carbon emissions will continue to be updated to take account of the latest airport footprint, any design or operational changes and UK Government policy on carbon emissions.

Have your say

We want to know what you think about our proposals to manage the environmental effects of expansion and, in particular:

  • whether there are any other initiatives or proposals that we should consider to address the emissions from airport related traffic or airport operations;
  • our proposals to help health and well-being, in particular whether there are any proposals that you think we should consider to address the effect of the Project on the health and wellbeing of our colleagues, neighbours and passengers;
  • our noise insulation schemes;
  • what factors are most important as we develop our proposals for noise management, in particular our proposals for the design and implementation of a noise envelope;
  • our proposals for maximising new jobs and training, in particular, whether there are any other ways that we can maximise skills and training opportunities to benefit our local communities;
  • on our approach to addressing effects on the historic environment, including any particular proposals you would like us to consider.

To respond to our proposals please answer the overarching question on the Environmental Introduction page.

View next topic in this group: