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Flying Towards A Sustainable Future: Malaysia Airports Lead Green Initiatives

The air transportation industry is one of the main drivers of economic growth in Malaysia as it helps boost tourism to the country. In Malaysia, the Joint International Development Tourism Programme (JITDP) signed between Tourism Malaysia and Malaysia Airports in January 2019 demonstrates that airport operators play a vital role in the area of tourism promotion.

Malaysia Airports is one of the largest airport operator in the world, managing 39 airports nationwide, facilitating 69 airlines, 59 million passenger movements and serving 135 destinations domestic and abroad in 2018 alone. As part of its sustainability policy, Malaysia Airports has committed itself to reduce the negative impacts of its business operations on the environment.

The KUL Sustainability Charter is a testament to Malaysia Airports’ ongoing efforts to internalise sustainability in everyday governance, strategy and operations. It outlines ten strategic goals that forms the crux of five sustainability pillars: optimising economic performance, promoting environmental consciousness, creating a diverse and inclusive workplace, community-friendly organisation and enhancing customer experience.

A Decade Long Commitment

Over the past decade, Malaysia Airports has championed environmental consciousness with its flagship KL International Airport (KLIA). The latter remains to be the first and only airport to achieve Green Globe 21 certification (a body that assesses the sustainability performance of travel and tourism companies) since 2004.

In addition, Airport Carbon Accreditation (”ACA”) has awarded KLIA with “Level 3 – Certification” for its carbon management plan since 2015. In 2017, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) awarded klia2’s terminal building and Integrated Complex with Gold and Silver rating respectively for the former’s sustainable design, operations and infrastructure.

Thus, sustainability is not a new business strategy for Malaysia Airports as it is a crucial element of the organisation’s performance and growth. Its sustainability agenda strategically aims to aid progressive objectives to reduce greenhouse gasses (GHG) on industry, national and global level.

Through its affiliation with Airports Council International (“ACI”), Malaysia Airports is a signatory of the Aviation Industry Commitment to Action on Climate Change in 2008 that aims to promote carbon-neutral growth. On a national level, Malaysia has committed to reducing GHG emissions by 45 percent by 2030 as one of the signatory of the Paris Agreement. Malaysia Airports also support the national goal to reduce the impact of development on climate change per the Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”) set out by the United Nations (“UN”).

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Malaysia Airports Initiatives

Malaysia Airports has also realigned its business approach to support the strategic aims of the UN, ACI and the national agenda. Several initiatives are undertaken by the organisation to achieve long-term sustainable value creation.

One notable energy-saving initiative is the implementation of solar panels with 19 MWp capacity as an alternative source of electricity at KUL since 2014. In 2018 alone, 18,284 MWh of clean energy was generated at KLIA and klia2. From 2014-2018, the solar panels produced 93,096 MWh of clean energy and this is equivalent to approximately 69,011 tonnes of carbon dioxide reduction. This initiative is in line with the national goal to achieve 20% clean energy generation by 2030.

Another notable example of an initiative to allocate resources effectively is the rainwater harvesting system. The system collects rainwater from watertight areas to be recycled for toilet flushing, reducing the need for tap water by 0.53 percent. The system also acts as flood mitigation measure.

The International Civil Aviation (ICAO) revealed that the aviation industry is accountable for 2 percent of global greenhouse emissions. Airport businesses are vital to the collective effort to reduce the carbon footprint. In Malaysia, Malaysia Airports continue to spearhead sustainable green initiatives with the ultimate aim of creating long-term value for all its stakeholders.

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