Kenya’s largest airfield, the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, can emulate China’s Beijing International Airport’s energy and waste management to reduce carbon emissions as it navigates its growth path.
The Beijing Airport, according to an assessment report released during the third United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA 3), has seen emissions drop 16 per cent between 2014 and 2016 despite huge growth of passenger numbers.
In 2016, the airport handled 94.39 million passengers and 606,000 aircraft.
As part of the its measures to reduce emissions, use of gasoline and diesel by airport vehicles declined to 45 and 49 per cent respectively between 2010 and 2016.
Of its 4,000 vehicles, more than 60 per cent are special purpose and the airport aims to switch at least 10 per cent of these and 20 per cent of the general purpose vehicles to electric powered alternatives by 2020.
United Nations South South Cooperation principal officer Zhang Shigang said if the JKIA adopts energy efficient ways and treats waste water, it will move a step forward towards reducing carbon emissions and dealing with air pollution in the country.
He said the move will play a major role in enforcing government’s anti-pollution policies.
He was speaking during a panel discussion on how the world can deal with air pollution at the United Nations Environment Assembly in Gigiri, Nairobi, last week.
When he addressed delegates, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Kenya was committed to dealing with pollution and will sign a global air pollution deal.
The President said, after wining praise for its plastic carrier bags ban, Kenya will move on to another major anti-pollution project by signing the air pollution policy.
Mr Shigang said the Chinese airport’s goal for a carbon free-emission environment can easily be achieved at the JKIA where the aircraft traffic is not as heavy as Beijing.
“Airports are among the major emitters of carbon dioxide and as the largest airport, the JKIA can contribute to reducing carbon emissions,” he said.
According to 2015 -2016 statistics from the Kenya Airport Authority, the JKIA recorded 3,466,218 passengers. In the 2016-2017 period the number rose to 3,773,963.
“The large number of passenger movement signifies that if energy efficiency ways are not implemented, there is a lot of carbon being released into the air,” he said.
He added: “There is need to adopt environment- friendly waste management system from the plane and treatment of water to reduce pollution to the environment and minimise impacts when released.”
Mr Shigang said the JKIA can also adopt clean energy sources such as solar as back- up instead of using energy that emits carbon.
“This is a great move, which China is doing and Kenya’s JKIA we should borrow from them. Air pollution is a major threat to health globally, which the UN requires all governments to address,” he said.
Steven Stone, chief of the UN Environment’s Resources and Markets Branch, said the Beijing airport had shown strong commitments towards sustainability, balancing growth in air, cargo and passenger traffic with its environmental performance, which can be emulated by the rest of the world.
The assessment report also shows that the Beijing airport is increasing water use efficiency to help cope with chronic shortage.
Further, the report indicates that performance in terms of indoor air quality and waste management treatment is fully up to national standards.
“As the only airport operator partner with United Nations Environment globally, we are very proud of this cooperation,” said the airport’s vice president, Zhang Wei.
Mr Shigang said the UN is committed to starting a partnership with the JKIA in implementing the carbon- free and waste management policy at the airport.