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London City Airport has committed to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Royal Docks hub has today (26 June) joined an industry-wide commitment in keeping with the UK Government’s own pledge.

As part of its current £500 million transformation, LCY has entered into a “green power” deal with UK Power Network Services. Within the next three years the airport will install its own microgrid, using a combination of solar panels and smart automation software.

Some 900 sqm of solar panels could produce approximately 140,000 KWh of energy per year – the equivalent to energy usage of 37 London homes – and achieve a carbon reduction of 307 tonnes CO2 per year.

The airport, which neighbours UEL and sits in the middle of a growing residential community, has tried to bear down on its carbon footprint in the face of a climate emergency, declared by, among others, London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

LCY says that through changes including installation of LED lights on the runway and in the terminal building, and the upgrade of energy efficient boilers, it has achieved a 28 per cent reduction in its carbon emissions per passenger since 2013. This is despite passenger growth of 42 per cent over that period.

Chief executive Robert Sinclair said, “This commitment is not only the right thing to do for London City Airport, but more importantly it’s the right thing for our environment and our communities. And what we are doing with UK Power Network Services demonstrates how we are putting sustainable practices at the heart of our decision making.”

London City Airport joins a carbon emission target. Pictured: Chief executive Robert Sinclair

What else is London City Airport doing?

The airport has also committed to become carbon neutral by 2020 under the ACI Airport Carbon Accreditation scheme. Some of the underpinning of the revamp of the airport is aimed at creating space for next-gen, cleaner and quieter aircraft, aiming to address the concerns of residents.

All vehicles and equipment used by staff at the airport will be electric by 2030 and over the next decade the airport aims to install 300 fast chargers for electric vehicles and it will become part of the Royal Docks cycle network to encourage sustainable transport.

What’s the rush?

In October last year, the world’s leading climate scientists warned there is only 12 years to take action to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C, there is significant risk of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

The authors of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) declared urgent and unprecedented changes were needed in people’s habits and global consumption to reach the target, which is at the top end of the pledge that formed part of the Paris agreement.

Since the IPCC announcement the green movement has become more prevalent with Extinction Rebellion recently occupying key London sites while Swedish student Greta Thunberg has inspired the school strike movement.

Part of this movement’s message is a call for people to fly less.