Climate protection strategy

Absolute carbon emissions down due to the pandemic

The sharp decrease in passenger figures and the temporary closure of Terminal 1 and the Terminal 2 satellite due to the coronavirus pandemic led to a significant decrease in CO2 emissions in the 2020 reporting year, at 80,473 tonnes. This effect is not permanent, however, and emissions are expected to bounce back when regular operations resume, if not before. As a result, this year’s reporting focuses on technical measures for targeted reduction of CO2 emissions rather than on comparing CO2 emissions with previous years. In 2020, Flughafen München GmbH invested around 1.2 million euros to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2,373 tonnes in the long term through 20 individual measures. Had the total of 294 individual measures not been taken, CO2 emissions at Munich Airport would be significantly higher than they actually are – more than 50,300 tonnes a year higher.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is apparent in the airport-specific key indicator of CO2 emissions per passenger, as elsewhere. This figure was up significantly for the first time since it was introduced. This is because the energy needed to run the airport infrastructure does not generally depend on the number of passengers. Energy is always needed for lighting, heating or cooling, and ventilation of the airport’s buildings. At the same time, runway lighting is always on in the evening and overnight, no matter how many aircraft are taking off or landing at the time.

CO2 emissions at Munich Airport

CO2 emissions at Munich Airport (line chart and bar chart (horizontal))
CO2 emissions per passanger (photo)
CO2 emissions per passenger rose for the first time.

Footprint: complex math problem

The operation of a piece of international infrastructure involves emissions from the most varied of polluters. All of them are factors in accounting for an airport’s greenhouse gas emissions, chief among them emissions from air traffic in the landing and take-off (LTO) cycle, which involves aircraft landing and taking off up to an altitude of 3,000 feet. The carbon footprint provides the basis for recording all forms of emissions and lends itself to 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.

«A-»FMG once again attained the «Leadership Level» in 2020 in the rankings published by the climate action organization Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) for consistently reducing CO2 emissions.

Scope 1 and Scope 2

Energy concept 2030

As part of its commitment to responsible climate action, Munich Airport developed a renewable energy concept in 2019 with the aim of deriving almost all of its energy supply from carbon-neutral sources by 2030. The focus here is on using local renewable sources to the fullest possible extent, for example through new photovoltaic systems on parking structure roofs and in suitable open areas outside the airport. By 2030, systems with a total output of up to 50 megawatts are planned. In terms of biogas supply, plans call for the formation of cooperative initiatives with waste disposal companies in the surrounding area, with the possibility of ramping up the existing sourcing of biomass heat from Zolling. The drastic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on aviation has left very little room for further adjustments. Still, the airport has managed to make targeted cuts in the amount of energy sourced externally and to continue generating about 90 percent of its energy itself. In addition, a new absorption chiller – the airport’s sixth – for the power station went into operation in the first half of 2020. With four megawatts of cooling power, it is one of the most powerful machines currently on the market, utilizing the remaining waste heat from the machines to produce cooling. Compared to conventional generation of cooling, this saves an additional 880 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Target for 2024
Advancement of the «Joint-Venture Biogas Plant» project

Target for 2022
Development of a «Net Zero MUC 2050» concept based on the ACI’s Net Zero Carbon Initiative

Greenhouse gas emissions at Munich Airport 2020

In percent (rounded)

Greenhouse gas emissions at Munich Airport 2020 (graphic)

Top 3 measures

Energy-saving LED lighting

Munich Airport has already shifted the entire apron lighting to energy-saving LED technology. All measures taken in the area of lighting have brought savings amounting to about 16,800 tonnes of CO2. The external lighting in the public areas of the airport will also be fully switched to LED technology by 2022. Beyond that, lighting management software controls and monitors the apron lighting and exterior lighting. This will give rise to further opportunities to keep energy consumption at a consistently low level. The lighting of the P71 and P73 parking areas is one example. Using LEDs and control software together has reduced the energy needed each night by as much as 86 percent compared to the status before the overhaul. The lights are kept at a minimum brightness level of 3 lux and only increased to the desired brightness when motion is detected.

185.000 LEDs (photo)
185,000 LEDs on posts as much as 34 meters tall light the apron.
Replacement of main ventilation systems in Terminal 1

Two central rooftop systems for each module supply Modules A through D in Terminal 1 with fresh air via a total of four supply air fans and four exhaust fans. These fans are being replaced by stages with the latest generation of fans as part of the airport’s climate action strategy. The new fans save 219 tonnes of CO2 per central rooftop system, and replacing the frequency converters there yields further savings as well, for total savings of 503 tonnes of CO2 each year. Module A, which was almost entirely shut down due to the pandemic, has already been fully retrofitted. Plans for the changeover of the central rooftop systems in Modules B and C are in progress.

Vertical air doors work without heat

Previously, horizontal air doors separated the S-Bahn tunnel in Terminal 1 from the passenger building above it. They used a large amount of preheated air to form a heat cushion. New, vertical air doors now create a kind of divider using a sharp, unheated stream of air, almost entirely preventing circulation of air volumes and thus drafts from the tunnel. This has not only reduced CO2 by 328 tonnes per year, but also significantly enhanced comfort.

Excerpt from the power savings program projects completed in 2020 (Scope 1 and 2)





Carbon reductions
per year



Signal lighting at all parking structure entrances/exits shifted to LED


78 t


Poulsen lighting in the GAT (General Aviation Terminal) replaced


4 t

Air conditioning


Conversion of main ventilation units in Terminal 1, Module A, to direct drive


503 t


Ventilation units in the MAC converted to multiple-motor technology


203 t

Renewable energies


Photovoltaic system on the roof of the new eurotrade logistics center


156 t



Increase in efficiency of drives and expansion of electromobility


199 t

Other energy efficiency


New sorter baggage transportation system in Terminal 1


104 t

Efficient drives within the fleet

Munich Airport operates a total of 131 cars and vans and 294 handling and special vehicles with electric drives. By 2030, electric vehicles should comprise the lion’s share of the vehicle fleet. Right now, the proportion is a bit over 30 percent. The six-figure, environmentally friendly investment is supported by subsidies from the German Federal Ministry of Transport. Compared to 2019, it proved possible to reduce the local emission of CO2 by around 200 tonnes. With an eye to advances in technology, the airport assumes that improvements in battery technology, green hydrogen, synthetic fuels, and other alternative drive concepts will further diversify the vehicle mix between now and 2030.

Scope 3

The 64 pre-conditioned air (PCA) systems that have been installed are an important element of the climate action strategy. They have been supplying aircraft parked in the parking positions with pre-conditioned air since 2016. As a result, the aircraft no longer need to run their auxiliary power units, which are responsible for high levels of noise, carbon emissions, and other air pollutants. Even with demand down, the four-year implementation phase was brought to a successful close in 2020. Beyond that, FMG worked with airlines and Deutsche Flugsicherung during the year under review to establish the new Efficient Flight Profile (EFP) concept. This concept supports the continuous descent approach, which allows for lower fuel consumption and lower emissions when landing compared with standard approaches. Initial analyses have shown that the Lufthansa Group alone has reduced its carbon emissions by more than 2,000 tonnes per month since the EFP concept was introduced, in the spring of 2020.

Facts and Figures

Sights set on sustainable mobility

Innovative drive concept: A bus from Munich Airport’s existing vehicle fleet has been retrofitted to run on renewable biomethane. A generator provides ecofriendly electric power. With 90 percent less particulate emissions as compared to diesel engines and more than 60 percent lower nitrogen oxide emissions, this concept is helping to improve air quality at the airport. The Innovation Award of the German Gas Industry was presented in recognition of these achievements in 2020.

Air quality

Landing charges are also based on nitrogen oxide emissions

FMG charges emissions-based 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.

All statutory limits for the protection of human health were once again met in 2020.

Fixed and mobile measuring points

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. Nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter are key factors in assessing air quality at the airport and in its environs. Concentrations of these substances are continuously measured at two 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. Traffic-related emissions at Munich Airport were down due to the coronavirus crisis. This is apparent from the decrease in NO2 concentrations compared to the previous year. Overall, the applicable statutory limit values were observed in 2020. Mobile measurements were taken on the north runway at Munich Airport in 2020. The concentrations measured were significantly below the statutory limits.

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

Annual averages in μg/m3

Concentration of contaminants at the measuring point on the east side of the airport premises (bar chart)

Ultrafine particles: particulate matter of nanoscale size

Ultrafine particles (UFP) are particles that are smaller than 0.1 micrometers in size. 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. Extensive UFP measurements are currently being taken around Frankfurt Airport by the Hessian Agency for Nature Conservation, Environment and Geology. Similarly, the University of Bayreuth is set to begin measuring UFP on behalf of the Bavarian environment ministry at two measuring points in the Munich Airport area in the spring of 2021. FMG supports the environment ministry’s measurement program, but is not currently taking any measurements of its own.

Electric aircraft towing vehicle (photo)

The «Phönix E» electric aircraft towing vehicle can move aircraft weighing as much as 352 tonnes, like the Airbus A350 shown here.

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 2020, 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. Work also continued on the honey monitoring project in 2020.

Measuring points for air quality and biomonitoring

Measuring points for air quality and biomonitoring (map)
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.
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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