Galapagos Islands airport: a bet for the environment

The airport in the Ecuadorian archipelago is a world pioneer in operating entirely on solar and wind energy, as well as being the first in the region to be certified 'Carbon Neutral'

Galapagos Islands airport: a bet for the environment

Leer en Español: Aeropuerto de las islas Galápagos: una apuesta por el medio ambiente

Ecuador is betting heavily on policies that help conserve the environment. The Galapagos Islands airport will now be known internationally as 'the ecological airport'. 

Since 2014, an environmental certification process was initiated at the airport which recently established that from that year until today, greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced to such a point that it has been awarded the "Carbon Neutral" certificate, an award given by the International Airports Council (IAC) through the Airport Carbon Acreditation Program, a global system that evaluates and acknowledges the efforts of airports to manage and reduce CO2 emissions. The airport is located on Baltra Island, in the Galapagos archipelago, which is comprised of 13 large islands with a surface area of more than 10 km²; six medium-sized islands with a surface area of between 1 km² to 10 km² and another 215 islets, all located just less than 1,000 km off the coast of Ecuador. 

Specifically, the accreditation obtained is 'Neutrality' (neutralization of direct emissions of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases by offsetting), equivalent to Level 3+, the highest in the environmental standards designated by the IAC. The other levels of the program are: 'Mapping', 'Reduction' and 'Optimization'. This recognition has been achieved because the airport's operation is entirely based on renewable energy from solar and wind sources.

A firm green step in the region

Undoubtedly, the effort made by the Baltra Island airport is a regional precedent, as it is the first in the region to obtain Level 3+. With its example, it allows the way forward that other airports not only in the region, but on the planet, should begin to have their sights set, much more so when the Paris Agreement is on the thin line. Recent reports conclude that the reduction of CO2 by countries will have to triple if they want to achieve the agreement by 2030, otherwise only a reduction of one third of the target will be achieved.

In the last months of 2017, 192 airports worldwide were certified with at least one of the four levels, covering 2.7 billion passengers per year, or 38.4% of the world's air traffic. As of that date, 92 airports were certified in Europe, 27 in Asia-Pacific, 10 in North America, 3 in Africa, and 4 in Latin America and the Caribbean. There are currently 28 carbon neutral airports in Europe, 5 in Asia, 1 in North America, 1 in Africa and 1 in Latin America and the Caribbean.

 

Latin American Post | Juan Felipe Guerrero

Copy edited by Laura Rocha Rueda

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