Heathrow has pledged to reduce carbon emissions from airport buildings and infrastructure to net-zero over the next 10 to 15 years.
The airport, which claims to have reduced non-flight emissions by 93% since 1990, says it will offset the remaining 7% through Verified Carbon Standard tree planting projects in Indonesia and Mexico.
However, Heathrow has stressed offsetting will serve only as an interim measure while it seeks to make further carbon reductions across its operations to achieve net-zero status by the “mid-2030s”.
These include improving the airport’s sustainable transport links and transitioning its cars and small vans to electric and plug-in hybrid models.
After spending more than £100 million decarbonising airport infrastructure, Heathrow says it will now invest a further £1.8 million piloting UK natural carbon capture projects this year.
These include restoring natural carbon sinks such as peatlands, woodlands and farming soils.
A new native woodland creation project in Ledmore, Scotland, will be the first to benefit from Heathrow’s funding pledge. The project, a partnership with Forest Carbon, will extend to 87.4 hectares.
Elsewhere, Heathrow says it has already invested more than £270,000 in natural carbon capture projects in Scotland, the North West and Wales since 2018, and plans to use some of these projects to offset “a small amount” of hard-to-tackle emissions in the coming years.
The airport has also pledged to use its position within the aviation sector to encourage others to invest in similar initiatives. It has previously committed to achieving net-zero carbon status across all operations, including flights, by 2050.
“With the right support and incentives from the industry and government, Britain will be able to become a world leader in green aviation technologies, benefiting both the environment and the economy,” said Heathrow.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye added: “Making our infrastructure entirely carbon neutral is a significant milestone and a testament to the determination of our airport to help spearhead a new era of sustainable aviation.
“Our sights are now set on working with the global aviation industry to deliver on net-zero by 2050, at the latest. We can and will cut the environmental cost of flying whilst keeping the benefits of travel for future generations.”