The Oakland International Airport (OAK). (Port of Oakland via Bay City News)

THE OAKLAND INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT plans to reduce carbon emissions, the Port of Oakland said Monday.

The airport will take part in an international program, the Airport Carbon Accreditation, to implement greenhouse gas reduction measures, said the Port, which oversees the airport. 

The international transit hub will develop greenhouse gas emission inventories, which are lists of emission sources, for 2021 and 2022. They also pledged to reduce carbon emissions year by year.

The airport is also updating its carbon reduction statement with a “non-binding” target of a 50 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, according to statement from the Port of Oakland. It aims to reach zero emissions by 2040.

The Airport Carbon Accreditation program provides six levels, each with different sets of requirements for carbon emissions. 

Level one is the least “stringent,” while level six is the most stringent, according to the program’s website.

The Oakland airport is aiming for level two, or the “reduction” level, which requires airports to provide evidence of effective carbon management procedures. These include setting targets and showing that a reduction in the carbon footprint has occurred by comparing current carbon footprints to those of previous years, in addition to fulfilling all level one requirements, the program’s website says.

The program has 510 airports participating worldwide, including the San Jose Mineta International Airport, which has level one accreditation, and the San Francisco International Airport, which has level four.

Among the carbon reduction measures that the airport is taking is incorporating more energy efficient technology, according to Colleen Liang, the Port of Oakland’s acting director of environmental programs and planning. They are also purchasing more alternative fuel or low-emission vehicles for its working fleet, Liang added.

The new accreditation comes as the Oakland airport is in the process of an expansion project which would add 16 new terminals.

Environmental concerns

While airport officials have advocated that the Terminal Modernization and Development Project is a needed move to modernize the airport, it has drawn criticism from those concerned about the environmental impact of air travel. 

Stop OAK Expansion is a coalition that was formed to combat the project. To them, the level two Airport Carbon Accreditation is not a significant enough step to fight climate change, said member of the coalition Lin Griffith. 

According to Griffith, the accreditation leaves out the emissions caused by airplanes themselves — which comprise a majority of emissions at modern airports — instead focusing on carbon reduction in on-the-ground operations like buildings and cars.

“We are concerned that without a commitment to capping and reducing flights, any airport carbon reduction plan will miss state and regional pollution targets,” Griffith said.

Lydia Sidhom is a rising third-year at UC Berkeley studying Data Science and Political Science. She is a Dow Jones News Fund intern for Bay City News. Lydia was a lead beat reporter, deputy news editor and projects developer for The Daily Californian and will be a deputy projects editor there this fall. She enjoys telling stories through data. In her free time, Lydia loves to read, bake and travel.