Cairns Airport is implementing a progressive Environment Strategy to guide our actions through to 2025, and to set the scene for long term aspirations in alignment with global standards such as the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
By investing in good environmental practice, we’re not only meeting our social responsibilities and protecting our valuable environment, but we’re taking care of our bottom line too. Doing the right thing for the planet is actually good for business, and long-term success requires the two to work in harmony.
Goal 1: Become a Carbon Neutral, Climate Ready Airport
Climate change is expected to have a significant physical impact on the north-eastern region of Australia within the coming decades. Scientists predict higher average temperatures, more intense and frequent heatwaves, more extreme bushfires, more intense cyclones, disrupted rainfall patterns, and inundation from sea level rise.
During our 2019 baseline year, our immediate operations resulted in the direct (scope 1) and indirect (scope 2) emissions of 15,380 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents. Accounting for our scope 3 emissions will significantly increase this total. We acknowledge our responsibility to reduce emissions, as well as to prepare for the potential consequences a changing climate may have on our operations.
Goal 2: Halve Waste to Landfill & contribute to a Circular Economy
The production and disposal of single use plastics is changing our landscapes and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Modern products are seldom designed with the end in mind and the use of a vast range of materials makes recycling difficult.
Queensland is one of the largest generators of waste in Australia, producing more than 32 million tonnes of it each year. Our operations create an average of 75 tonnes of waste each month, with 80% of that waste discarded as landfill. We see an opportunity to rethink waste based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.
Goal 3: Halve Potable Water Use
Although water is relatively abundant in north-eastern Queensland, a growing population and changes in rainfall patterns will increase pressure on water resources. The capture of water in dams is costly and disrupts freshwater ecosystems and the treatment and distribution of water uses resources, as does the treatment of discharged wastewater.
Our Airports (Cairns and Mackay Airport) use an average of 140,000 kilolitres of water each year, which is enough to fill 56 Olympic swimming pools. This is mostly drinking water that is used across our airport operations, including in irrigation and amenities. We acknowledge the need to explore opportunities for recycled water use, and to make a conscious effort to grow our operations with water efficiency in mind.
Goal 4: Protect Biodiversity
North Queensland’s biological systems are highly diverse, with half of Australia’s native bird species, one third of its mammals and 3,000 plants.
Cairns Airport is built amidst coastal ecosystems that are thriving and have become strongholds for many species that have been adversely impacted by coastal development. People travel from all over the world to experience the biodiversity we have in our backyard, and we acknowledge our responsibility to take care of it.
Goal 5: Sustain Healthy Waterways
Pollution of soil, groundwater, and surface water can cause damage to ecosystems and human health, and can limit land usability and impact reputation.
Airport operations are diverse and require the use of a vast range of chemicals, many of which are for safety. High rainfall and proximity to delicate waterways and marine environments can mean that chemical spills can result in environmental pollution quickly if not managed properly, and we have a lot to lose.
Goal 6: Work with our Neighbours
Aircraft and ground servicing equipment generate noise that can have a major impact on residents living and working close to airports and under flight paths. The irregular bursts of noise can be difficult to get used to and late-night flights can disrupt sleeping patterns.
Cairns Airport provides a crucial service to the communities in which we operate and we acknowledge the importance of working together to reduce the impact these operations could have on our neighbours. We accept that we have a role to play in keeping our communities informed and providing a platform for genuine collaboration.