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Infrastructure coalition starts plans for net-zero economy

Mott MacDonald, Anglian Water, Skanska, Transport for London, UKCRIC and the UK Green Building Council have joined together to identify and begin tackling the infrastructure industry's key challenges if it is to play its part in creating a climate stable future.

An urgent transformation of the UK’s infrastructure is required to respond to climate change. 

The Government has legislated to build a net-zero economy by 2050. By doing so, the UK will not only end its contribution to further global warming but position itself as an international leader exploiting the economic and societal opportunities presented by this generational mission.

The coalition is focused on how the net-zero transformation can be achieved.

“We are a group of infrastructure industry organisations with many decades’ experience creating and operating major infrastructure both in the UK and around the world,” said Mott MacDonald senior consultant for energy strategy and innovation Sam Friggens, who has led on creating the group.

“Our insights are underpinned by a deep understanding of technical and commercial realities as well as the challenges inherent in delivering infrastructure at scale and pace. We bring leading expertise from across the energy, water, transport and buildings sectors and a commitment to working across industry and with government to develop the technologies, skills, supply chains, regulatory frameworks and planning regimes to build a net-zero economy.”

Peter Simpson, CEO for Anglian Water, said: “The challenges of a preparing for a climate change and a rapidly growing population are felt nowhere more keenly then in here in the east of the UK.

“At Anglian Water, we will continue to implement our ambitious plans to reduce consumption and leakage by engaging with our communities and investing in smart metering. We will also support sustainable growth and economic development by investing to secure the supply of water in order to meet these challenges.

“We have seen first-hand how ambitious carbon targets can disrupt established practice, drive innovation, and significantly reduce costs and environmental impacts. Anglian has already made huge strides towards becoming a carbon neutral business by 2050. In 2010, we set industry-leading carbon targets for 2020. By 2015, we had already beaten those targets.

“Our customers have told us to be more ambitious in tackling climate change and we’ve stepped up to that challenge. This is a core part of our social contract with the communities we serve, and the environment we protect.”

The coalition’s objectives are to:

  • Identify the necessary enabling environment (policies, incentives and regulations) to deliver net-zero while minimising costs and maximising wider environmental, social and economic benefits across all regions of the UK
  • Develop a practical understanding of the urgent activities and critical paths for the most difficult (and often least understood) areas of new economic infrastructure required for net-zero, such as net-zero industrial clusters, the hydrogen economy and nation-wide electric vehicle charging
  • Bring a collaborative, mission-oriented whole-system approach (based on systems thinking and systems engineering principles) to all aspects of planning and delivering infrastructure for net-zero, recognising the interactions between infrastructure sectors
  • Provide a collaborative hub for infrastructure industry efforts on net-zero, convene cross-sector expertise in partnership with government and mobilise and communicate industry action on net-zero

The group has discussed its aims and will co-ordinate its activities with the Committee on Climate Change, National Infrastructure Commission, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Treasury and the Infrastructure & Projects Authority, as well as the Aldersgate Group, Green Construction Board, Energy Systems Catapult and Major Projects Association.

The Committee on Climate Change welcomed the formation of the coalition, saying: “In May we provided our advice to the UK government to set an ambitious new target for the UK to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“Now that Parliament has adopted this target, it is urgent for all sections of society to come together to make sure we achieve it. Ending the UK’s contribution to global warming requires ambitious action across all sectors of UK’s economy, and we are delighted to see the infrastructure industry coming together to help deliver this objective. We look forward to supporting this initiative.”

Dr Simon Harrison, Mott MacDonald’s group strategic development manager, said: “Our aim is to bring together expertise from leading organisations across the infrastructure sector who share the belief that transitioning to a net-zero economy is not just essential but achievable and beneficial.

“It’s about doing what is both right and good for business. It’s about exploring how we can develop a joint response to the challenge of achieving net-zero. We invite others to join us.” 

The coalition's mission statement can be viewed here

Author: Robin Hackett, editor, WWT
Topic: Energy/Water Nexus , Sustainability & social value
Tags: climate change , infrastructure , Anglian Water , Skanska , Mott MacDonald


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