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Climate protection strategy

The commitment: carbon-neutrality by 2030

Climate policy objectives and their effects are evolving at a rapid pace. In the past year especially, aviation has been the focus of much public attention. Munich Airport already adopted its first climate protection strategy in 2009, aimed at achieving carbon-neutral growth. Some seven years later, the company set itself the even more ambitious goal of achieving carbon-neutral operation of the airport from 2030. To achieve this, the Munich Airport Group is reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that can be attributed directly to its operations by at least 60 percent using various technical measures. The remaining 40 percent of emissions are to be balanced out by suitable compensation measures, preferably within the region. To achieve this target, Flughafen München GmbH is planning to invest €150 million by 2030, almost an entire year’s net profit.

Next step: «Net Zero Carbon»

Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe) is pursuing a new climate protection goal as part of a comprehensive sustainability strategy. More than 200 European airports have signed up to the Net Zero Carbon Initiative, with Munich Airport being one of the first signatories. The goal is to reduce carbon emissions from operation of the airport, which are open to influence, to net zero by 2050 at the latest. Attention is primarily focused in this respect on measures to prevent emissions from arising in the first place, for example by converting energy supply to renewable energies. In addition, removal methods are to be used to allow the residual unavoidable carbon dioxide emissions to be actively removed again from the atmosphere.

Aerial view of fields near the airport against a light blue sky, in the distance you can see the airport
Munich Airport has set itself ambitious goals for protecting the environment.

CO2 emissions per passenger are sinking further

Despite the growth in traffic, FMG has lowered CO2 emissions from around 162,000 tonnes in the 2005 reference year to around 148,000 tonnes to date. Had the 274 individual measures not been taken, CO2 emissions at Munich Airport would be higher than they actually are – more than 48,000 tonnes a year higher. In 2019, Flughafen München GmbH invested around €1.75 million to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3,418 tonnes in the long term. The improved energy efficiency is particularly evident in this comparison: While passenger figures at the airport have increased by around 67 percent since 2005 and the building areas have grown by around 16 percent, the CO2 emissions of buildings, systems, and vehicles have fallen by some nine percent. CO2 emissions per air passenger in the same period thus fell by 46 percent. These successes make it clear that even the most ambitious of climate goals can be achieved by continuously improving efficiency in existing stock, through sustainable building construction, and through the increased use of renewable energy.

FMG achieved «leadership level» once more in 2019 in the non-profit-organization CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) with a score of «A-» for its especially effective work in the area of climate protection.

CO2 emissions at Munich Airport

CO2 emissions at Munich Airport 2005-2019

CO2 emissions per passenger have reduced by 46 percent since 2005.

Footprint: complex math problem

The operation of a piece of international infrastructure involves emissions from the most varied of polluters. They all flow into the accounting of the greenhouse gas emissions of an airport (sorted by descending order of relevance):

  • Air traffic in the LTO cycle (landing and take-off cycle): taking-off and landing aircraft up to an altitude of 3,000 feet (914 meters)
  • Natural gas and heating oil for the power centers
  • Power, district heat, cooling power, fuel, and natural gas supplies to external companies
  • Feeder traffic: landside/public vehicle traffic (employees, passengers, visitors, and freight)
  • Auxiliary power units (APU) and engine test runs
  • Power and district heat purchases for the Group
  • Airside/in-house vehicle traffic (such as buses on the apron, luggage transporters, and aircraft tug vehicles), ground power units, and other service and de-icer equipment

The carbon footprint provides the basis for the reliable recording of all forms of emissions and lends itself to international comparison. It breaks down all greenhouse gas emissions that can be attributed to the airport into three different sources (scopes) according to an international standard, the «Greenhouse Gas Protocol».

Greenhouse gas emissions at Munich Airport 2019

In percent

Greenhouse gas emissions at Munich Airport 2019
Level 3 «Optimization» Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe) honored Munich Airport for the tenth time in a row in 2019 with the «Airport Carbon Accreditation» seal of approval for its CO2 management. The goal for 2030 is to achieve the highest Level 3+ «Neutrality».

Brief interview

Trends in CO2 emissions

Korbinian Nachtmann in an orange protective jacket against solar panels looks directly into the chamber
Dr. Ing. Korbinian Nachtmann Specialist in Energy and CO2 Management

Mr. Nachtmann, how did emissions at FMG pan out under Scope 1 and 2?

Absolute CO2 emissions fell by 874 to 101,511 tonnes of CO2 in 2019. While the emission factor for electricity purchased (Scope 2) decreased and the carbon footprint improved, a colder winter compared to 2018 led to an increased demand for energy. The growth in passenger numbers, new buildings, and the required construction site electricity made a difference of around 1,909 tonnes of CO2. The measures to cut energy consumption to the tune of 3,418 tonnes of CO2 were able to compensate fully for this increase.

What is planned for the future?

If we are to reduce the carbon footprint more aggressively than before in the coming years, we have to pursue the sustainable supply of electricity, heating, and cooling energy by expanding the use of renewable energies. 2019 kicked off with the development of a new energy strategy.

Scope 1 and Scope 2

Block heat and power plant is highly efficient

With its block heat and power plant, the airport generates over half of its on-site power demand using natural gas. The waste heat generated from this alone covers almost all of its heating and cooling needs, without requiring the use of additional energy. The airport then covers its remaining heating requirements by procuring district heat from Fernwärmeversorgung Freising. In turn, 50 percent of the purchased district heat – i.e., around 14 gigawatt hours (GWh) – comes from a biomass thermal power plant in Zolling, which reduces the CO2 emissions by a further 3,000 tonnes approximately per year. If the heat and power were generated separately in the mix applied in the Federal Republic of Germany, the amount of CO2 produced each year would be 40,000 tonnes higher. The remaining power generated by the block heat and power plant is fed to companies on the airport campus, with the result that less than a third of the power used on the airport campus comes from external energy providers. Overall, emissions produced by the external procurement of power and district heat have decreased by around 25 percent since 2005. Looking at the Munich Airport Group alone, this figure has fallen by almost 50 percent. This is down to the new and more efficient engines for cogeneration of heat and power, on one hand, and reductions in power consumption, on the other.

Development of CO2 emissions (Scope 1 and Scope 2)

In tonnes

1 Without photovoltaics site
2 District heating, photovoltaics site, fuel
Excerpt from the power savings program projects completed in 2019 (Scope 1 and 2)





CO2 reductions per year



Changeover of mobile bridge light traps


85 t


Terminal 2: LED optimization of hall roof


755 t



Test system for direct drive/multiple-motor technology in the airmail sorting center


19 t


User-driven optimization of the ventilation in the satellite building in Terminal 2


585 t

Renewable energies


Photovoltaic system on the roof of the P51 parking structure; 2nd construction stage


204 t



Increase in efficiency of drives (for example by replacing older models for new ones) and expansion of electromobility (without C.A.R.E. diesel)


107 t

Photovoltaics generate renewable energy

In its drive to achieve a carbon-neutral airport, Munich Airport is also using renewable energy. The first larger-scale system of this type with an installed rated output of around 750 kilowatts was realized in the summer of 2018 on the P51 parking structure. It generates around 730 megawatt hours of renewable electricity per year and thus saves 423 tonnes of CO2 annually. The rated output was already increased to 1,100 kilowatts in 2019. By 2030, systems with a total output of up to 20 megawatts are planned.

LED changeover continues to advance

Munich Airport has already converted the entire apron lighting to energy-saving LED technology. With 185,000 LEDs in around 1,900 luminaires on lamp posts standing up to 34 meters tall, the world’s largest LED high-mast system at present can be found here. This allows the airport to save around 16,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. The external lighting in the public areas of the airport will also be switched to LED technology by 2022. In addition, the entire apron and external lighting of the airport will also be controlled and monitored in future using light management software. This will give rise to further opportunities to reduce energy consumption.

Target for 2022
Converting the entire apron lighting and external lighting to LED technology

Airport focuses its attention on electric vehicles

As part of its climate protection program, Munich Airport uses alternative fuels from renewable energy sources within its vehicle pool:

  • 23 cars use biogas.
  • 131 cars/mini-transporters and 266 pieces of handling equipment are electrically operated.

The proportion of electric vehicles is rising significantly: By 2030, they should comprise the lion’s share of the vehicle pool. In 2019, Munich Airport replaced 30 of its older cars run on gasoline or diesel. Electric vehicles currently comprise more than 20 percent of the existing vehicle fleet. The six-figure, environmentally friendly investment is supported by subsidies from the German Ministry of Transport. Compared to 2018, it proved possible to reduce the local emission of CO2 by around 107 tonnes.

Electrical handling equipment on the runway in front of an aircraft, blue sky
A large proportion of handling equipment is operated electrically.

Scope 3

The new pre-conditioned air systems (PCA systems) are an important element of the climate protection strategy. Since fall 2016, these systems have been supplying aircraft parked in the parking positions next to the buildings at Terminal 1, Terminal 2, and at the satellite building with pre-conditioned air. As a result, the aircraft no longer need to run their auxiliary power units (APU), which are responsible for high levels of noise, carbon emissions, and other air pollutants. In 2019, the operating times of the 64 PCA systems increased further, which led to a reduction of 20,851 tonnes of CO2. In addition, a pilot project was launched in the past year, which will test the implementation of PCA systems at remote positions in trial operation under real-life conditions. Flughafen München GmbH together with the airlines and the companies based at the airport also improved other climate protection measures in 2019, such as the environmentally sound continuous descent operations (CDO) and the optimized taxiing system (ACDM, Airport Collaborative Decision Making), which reduces taxiing times.

Air quality

Impact of road and air traffic

In the assessment of air quality at the airport and in its environs, nitrogen oxide NOx, sulfur dioxide SO2, and the particulate matter fractions PM10 and PM2,5 play a key role. In terms of air pollutants, as with CO2, the aircraft cause significantly more emissions than the ground traffic on the aprons, feeder roads, and service roads. It is not possible, however, to differentiate between the immissions metrologically.

Landing charges are also levied based on nitrogen oxide emissions

Flughafen München GmbH levies emissions-oriented landing charges. This gives engine and aircraft manufacturers a long-term incentive to invest in the development of aircraft that produce less in the way of pollutant emissions. Munich Airport is thus actively contributing to better environmental quality in its environs. With the information on the aircraft types that have landed, the airport can record the contaminants – including CO2 – for the specific engines, and directly map the technical progress.

Fixed and mobile measuring points

The air quality at Munich Airport is continuously monitored at two measuring points. The measurement stations in the western and eastern areas of the airport record the effect of the sources of pollutant emissions from road traffic, air traffic, and other airport operations – overlaid with the background levels from the Munich metropolitan area and the natural background concentration in the atmosphere. The contaminants ozone, nitrogen monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, benzene, toluene, xylene, and the particulate matter fractions PM10 and PM2,5 are monitored. All statutory limits for the protection of human health were once again met in 2019. For particulate matter PM10 and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), there were no breaches of the statutory 24-hour limit. The 2019 annual averages for the key parameters NO2 and particulate matter were in fact significantly below the limits, as they have been in previous years.

In 2014, Munich Airport became the first airport in Germany to additionally determine the quality of air using a mobile air quality measurement station. It measures the same substances as the stationary measuring point in the east of the airport in specialist investigations conducted over several months in the surrounding municipalities. The mobile measurements were carried out in 2019 at the Visitors Park at the «Airport Hopser» daycare center. The concentrations measured in the first six months were significantly below the statutory limits.

4 white vessels on sticks with grass cultures to measure the air quality in front of a white-blue cloudy sky, an airplane is flying straight over the grass cultures
Biomonitoring with grass cultures

Concentration of contaminants at the measuring point on the east side of the airport premises

Annual averages in μg/m3

Pollutant concentrations at the measuring point in the east of the airport site

Ultrafine particles: particulate matter of nanoscale size

Ultrafine particles (UFP) are particles that are smaller than 0.1 micrometers in size. They are created, for example, from the combustion of fossil fuels in cars – but also in air traffic. These particles are therefore primarily the focus of discussion because to a certain extent they can enter the bloodstream directly via the lungs. The health effects of ultrafine particles are still largely undetermined, however, and currently the focus of toxicological and epidemiological studies. There is no standardized procedure at present to measure UFPs, no objective benchmark for their assessment, and also no limit values. Munich Airport is carefully monitoring ongoing projects, however, which address the topic of pollution caused by ultrafine particles in air traffic. Intensive UFP measurements are being carried out at and around Frankfurt airport at the moment, which are expected to reach a conclusion in 2020. FMG is currently not conducting any UFP measurements.

Keeping track of contaminants

Long-lasting contaminants can accumulate in the environment and therefore seep into the food chain. Munich Airport has been monitoring this situation for many years using a variety of methods. In 2019, plant pots containing Italian ryegrass and kale as well as pots for collecting dustfall were set up at eight measuring points around the airport site. 160 grass cultures and 24 kale samples provide around 1,100 measurements per year relating to air pollutants and their impact. Work also continued on the honey monitoring project in 2019.

Measuring points for air quality and biomonitoring

Measuring points for air quality and biomonitoring
Airports Council International (ACI)
An international organization, headquartered in Montreal, which represents airport operators. More than 1,900 airports in almost all of the countries in the world are ACI members, including more than 500 airports in 46 European countries.
Auxiliary Power Units (APU)
In addition to their two or four main engines, today’s commercial aircraft have a smaller auxiliary power unit. The APU is used to start the main engines and to generate electrical power when the plane is on the ground.
Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol)
Globally recognized instrument used to quantify and manage greenhouse gas emissions. The GHG Protocol defines requirements governing the calculation of greenhouse gas emissions on an organization-wide scale and the implementation of projects to reduce emissions.
Landing and take-off cycle (LTO cycle)
The landing and take-off cycle refers to an aircraft’s CO2 emissions on the ground and during take-off and landing below an altitude of 3,000 feet (914 meters). Up to this internationally defined height, any greenhouse gases associated with aircraft turbines are attributed to the airport concerned and distances from the airport of about 8 kilometers in the case of departing aircraft, depending on the climbout, and 17 kilometers in the case of arriving aircraft.
Particulate matter
The variable PM10 (particulate matter < 10 μm) describes the proportion of particulate matter with a particle diameter of up to 10 μm. As a subset of PM10, PM2.5 contains even smaller particles.

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