The Impact of Climate Change on Philadelphia International Airport

In 2019, Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) conducted a Climate Vulnerability Assessment (CVA) to better understand and prepare for the impacts of climate change on the airport’s employees, guests, services, surrounding communities, facilities, and assets.

"It is critical that we address how climate change impacts PHL," said Danielle Buehler, PHL Sustainability Program Manager. "It has been proven that climate change will continue to cause costly damage to airports' structures and facilities; threaten the health and safety of employees and guests; disrupt airline schedules; and harm the economic viability of airport operations. Likewise, climate change could also compromise airports’ crucial role in the regional transport of goods, provision of food security, deployment of emergency management operations, and the livelihoods and health of employees. The wide range of issues presented by climate change are fundamentally tied to sustainability – spanning the financial, operational, environmental, and social realms. Proactively addressing these issues will not only strengthen the airport, but the surrounding community and broader transportation network as a whole."

The CVA approach consisted of investigating climate trends and projections for the City of Philadelphia, identifying and assessing key vulnerabilities at PHL, and identifying priority action areas to address these vulnerabilities.

In order to do that, the Division of Aviation carried out two stakeholder workshops; an online survey of PHL stakeholders including staff, airlines, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); and small group interviews.

Some of the key recommendations and next steps proposed in this CVA include:

  • Develop an airport-specific Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Plan
  • Integrate climate change related risks into training programs and communications protocols
  • Integrate climate change risks into capital planning and asset management
  • Evaluate specific flooding vulnerabilities and potential impacts
  • Work with local/regional/state entities to develop climate resilience partnerships and adopt best practices

"Moving forward, we are continuing climate resiliency planning and preparedness efforts, prioritizing adaptation strategies based on the risk to PHL’s stakeholders, assets, and operations," said Buehler. "To build on our climate change planning efforts, this month, we are kicking off an effort to prepare a Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Plan in close coordination with a Sustainability Plan that will address climate change mitigation through energy and emission reductions. The dual planning approach will enable collective goal-setting and holistic assessment of alternatives and initiatives.

This CVA complements ongoing climate action efforts at PHL, the City of Philadelphia, which owns and operates PHL, and state and regional planning organizations. 

To read the CVA, click here.

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Media Contacts

Heather Redfern
Public Affairs Manager
215-600-6105
heather.redfern@phl.org
Shawn Hawes
Public Information Officer
215-490-6465
shawn.hawes@phl.org

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