Report on activity and sustainable development 2020

Interview with Amélie Lummaux, Director for Sustainable Development and Public Affairs

Chapter 3. Transform

Interview with Amélie Lummaux, Director for Sustainable Development and Public Affairs


Director for Sustainable Development and Public Affairs Amélie Lummaux sets out the key environmental and social responsibility issues facing Groupe ADP. Amélie believes that the aviation industry in its entirety has arrived at a pivotal point in its history, and explains the determination of the Group intends to play a leading role in driving the change process.

Amélie Lummaux, 

Director for Sustainable Development 
and Public Affairs

In the post-Covid-19 world, the issue of the environmental footprint imposed by air transport – and therefore by airports – will become more central than ever. So where does Groupe ADP stand on these issues?

We were taking action on these issues long before the current health crisis. Between 2009 and 2019, we consistently and substantially reduced CO2 emissions per passenger at the Paris airports using a variety of levers, from developing renewable energy sources (a geothermal power plant, a biomass power plant and solar photovoltaic) to making your facilities more
energy- efficient and greening our vehicle fleets. We’re also working closely with airlines to help them reduce their ground-based emissions. We aim to make our Paris airports carbon neutral by 2030, and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Internationally, six via network airports were already carbon neutral by the end of 2020. We now want to go further still by contributing to the efforts being made by our partners.

Significant progress has been made, but how can you accelerate the pace of air transport emissions reduction?

Air transport accounts for no more than 3% of CO2 emissions worldwide, but to emerge successful from the crisis, the industry must accelerate the pace of its ecological transition. Which is why 2020 will be remembered as a pivotal point. The October announcement by Airbus that its hydrogen-powered – and therefore zero CO2 emissions aircraft, is scheduled to be ready by 2035 means that the European aircraft manufacturer’s research and development programme is being accelerated by around 10 years. For an airport operator like ourselves, this means that we have to start thinking now about the future development of our infrastructures, so that when we reach that point we’re ready to provide liquid hydrogen refuelling facilities for these aircraft. But, of course, the uses of hydrogen are not confined to aircraft. So we have to build and structure a hydrogen infrastructure in our airports, which is why we have launched an unprecedented call for expressions of interest in partnership with the Île-de-France Region, Air France-KLM and Airbus.

Hydrogen is a game-changer that makes it possible to envisage Europe-wide zero CO2 aviation by 2050.

In 2020, we also saw an acceleration in the pace of development of biofuels and new sustainable aviation fuels. The French government’s call for expressions of interest has given us the opportunity to support five development and production projects, which we hope will begin delivering practical solutions as quickly as possible.

Hydrogen is a game-changer that makes it possible to envisage Europe-wide zero CO2 aviation by 2050.

Is biodiversity protection being overshadowed by global warming?

2020 was intended to be a pivotal year for biodiversity protection, with the COP15 UN Biodiversity Conference planned for China, although the pandemic prevented that from going ahead. Nevertheless, Groupe ADP has increased the scope of its commitment to biodiversity. All our platforms are making good progress towards zero pesticides, and in fact, Paris-Orly hasn’t used any of these products since 2015. We’re also currently developing a series of special measurement indicators to take even better account of biodiversity issues in our report development choices. We also plan to conduct a zero net artificialisation study to assess the opportunities for removing impermeable surfaces and structures so that some areas of land can be returned to nature. Lastly, we must ensure that the choices we make when purchasing supplies, materials, equipment, and so on also consider the implications for biodiversity.

All these issues are consistent with the national challenge embodied in particular by the Citizens’ Convention for Climate initiative in France and the goal of zero net artificialisation, which would probably have been the focus of international debate had the COP15 Biodiversity Conference gone ahead.

The crisis gives us the opportunity to reinvent our airport model for the long term by applying a simultaneously citizen-centric and eco-responsible vision.

Airport activity inevitably impacts surrounding areas. So how did your relationship with host areas and communities develop during the year?

The social cohesion and links that connect our airports with their host areas become even closer as a result of the health crisis and an unprecedented level of supportive community action, including making specialist personnel available to the Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) university hospital trust, donating tablets to enable patients to stay in touch with their families, and Group employees volunteering to give up their own time to contribute to community initiatives. During the first lockdown, Paris-Orly became a centre for the evacuation by air of patients to other regions of France, while
Paris-Charles de Gaulle handled the medical cargo flights that supplied France with essential equipment. Over and above these social initiatives, we naturally continued to work with local ecosystems to promote employment, measure the impact of the crisis, help to mitigate its effects through training support programmes, and prepare for the recovery and our refocus on resilient sectors.

What is your roadmap for 2021?

2021 will probably be another year of transition as the crisis continues, but it also offers us the opportunity to reinvent our airport model, and incorporate a new citizen-centric and eco-responsible vision into our long-term roadmap.One of our key challenges for the coming year will be to demonstrate that achieving zero CO2 emissions is a credible and achievable target for aviation in Europe. It’s also a non-negotiable condition governing the long-term continuation of our business.