Initiatives for sustainable development in the aviation sector and reduce carbon emissions at airports

Context: India’s aviation sector has experienced rapid growth in recent years, leading to an increase in carbon emissions from airports. Ministry of Civil Aviation has taken a number of initiatives to promote sustainable development in the aviation sector and reduce carbon emissions at airports.

Emissions from Airports

Airport greenhouse gas emissions fall into three categories: Scope 1 (from sources owned/controlled by airport), Scope 2 (indirect emissions from purchased energy), and Scope 3 (indirect emissions beyond airport’s control). Scope 1 accounts for 5% and Scope 2 for 95% of emissions. This has led to increased efforts to make airports more eco-friendly and green.

What is Green Airport?

A green airport refers to an airport that adopts sustainable measures to mitigate its ecological impact and encourage sustainable growth. These airports strive to curtail their carbon footprint, preserve natural resources such as energy and water, and cut down on waste and emissions.

Initiatives by MoCA taken for reduction of Green House Gases(GHG) in airspace

  • Flexible Use of Airspace (FUA): Due to Flexible Use of Airspace, cumulative reduction in carbon emission of approx. 90,000 tCO2 in addition to cumulative saving of approx. 
  • Implementation of Central Air Traffic Flow Management (C-ATFM): This management technique is helping to manage air traffic flows strategically in the Indian sky. It has helped to ensure reduced delays & holding and optimisation of capacity, leading to reduction in fuel consumption and GHG emissions. India became the 7th country in the world (after USA, Europe, Australia, South Africa, Japan and Brazil) to implement the Air Traffic Flow Control Measures across the country. 

Airports Council International – Global Framework

The Airports Council International (ACI) has launched the Airport Carbon Accreditation program, which is a globally recognised carbon management certification program for airports of all sizes, including general aviation and freight-focused airports. 

The program helps airports to assess their carbon emissions, develop a carbon management plan, and reduce their carbon footprint. It offers six levels of certification that acknowledge airports’ different stages of carbon management and uses internationally recognised methodologies.

The program provides measurable goals, flexibility to account for national or local requirements and helps airports benefit from increased efficiency and lowered energy consumption. 

About International Civil Aviation Organization

  • It is a specialized agency of the United Nations that coordinates the principles and techniques of international air navigation, and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth. 
  • Its core function is to maintain an administrative and expert bureaucracy to research new air transport policy and standardization innovations. 
  • It defines the protocols for air accident investigation that are followed by transport safety authorities in countries signatory to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation. 
  • Its headquarters are located in the Quartier International of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

ICAO’s CORSIA initiative

  • It is the first global market-based measure for any sector and represents a cooperative approach that moves away from a “patchwork” of national or regional regulatory initiatives. 
  • It offers a harmonized way to reduce emissions from international aviation, minimizing market distortion, while respecting the special circumstances and respective capabilities of ICAO Member States.
  • CORSIA complements the other elements of the basket of measures by offsetting the amount of CO2 emissions that cannot be reduced through the use of technological improvements, operational improvements, and sustainable aviation fuels with emissions units from the carbon market.

Steps taken by the MoCA for encouraging usage of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)

  • Airlines can either use Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) or offset their emissions by purchasing carbon credits from ICAO approved Emissions Unit Programmes.
  • To realize the goals of decarbonization of Aviation Sector, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas constituted a Bio-Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) Programme Committee to take forward the Bio-ATF programme in the country to promote use of clean fuels.
  • SpiceJet, a private Indian carrier, had conducted a demonstration flight with Bombardier Q400 aircraft in August 2018 using bio-fuel blended with ATF (in the ratio of 25:75) in one engine.
  • As on date, Airbus and Boeing aircraft are capable of flying with up to a 50% blend of SAF. Both the manufacturers aim to enable 100% SAF capability by 2030.
  • Clean Skies for Tomorrow (CST) is an initiative of World Economic Forum to help the aviation sector move towards net-zero emissions by accelerating the use of sustainable aviation fuels. 

Achievements by India

  • Delhi and Mumbai airports, the top two major airports in the country, have achieved the highest Level 4+ Carbon Accreditation of ACI. 
  • Hyderabad and Bengaluru have also achieved the status of being Carbon Neutral (Level 3+).
  • Cochin Airport is the first green airport in the world, fully powered by solar energy. (Prelims 2022)
  • Almost all the major airports have Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) installed at their sites and at remaining airports the STPs are being installed.


  • Most of the Airports have given the target of achieving 100% use of Green Energy by 2024 and Net Zero by 2030.
  • AAI has given targets to achieve 100% Green Energy at its remaining operational airports by 2024. 


Tackling carbon emissions from airports requires a coordinated and collaborative effort from all stakeholders, including technological innovation, policy and regulatory frameworks.

With concerted efforts, it is possible to mitigate the environmental impact of air travel while continuing to enjoy its many benefits. 

UPSC Prelims 2022 PYQ:

Q. Consider the following statements:

1. Gujarat has the largest solar park in India.

2. Kerala has a fully solar powered International Airport.

3. Goa has the largest floating solar photovoltaic project in India.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2

(b) 2 only

(c) 1 and 3

(d) 3 only

Ans. (b)

Prelims Practice MCQ:

Q. CORSIA, was recently in news, is related to which of the following?

(a) It is an initiative launched to reduce emissions from international aviation.

(b) Cold containers for storing vaccines.

(c) A cyber security initiative of European Union.

(d) Technology that can aid in creating superconductors.

Ans. (a)

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