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Low carbon solutions in a net zero world

Mark Crouch, Carbon management team lead

Legislation for net zero carbon emissions in the UK and internationally is necessary, urgent and welcome.

At Mott MacDonald, we are leading the way. We have a long history of leading the industry in low carbon infrastructure. We authored the Infrastructure Carbon Review for the UK Government and co-authored the world’s first publicly-available specification on carbon management in infrastructure, PAS2080.

We are the only major consultancy to have our own PAS2080 carbon management capabilities externally verified by an independent auditor, with the scope of our current accreditation expanded to include our global capability, with projects sampled from every continent.

Our carbon management tool, the Carbon Portal, helps our clients reduce carbon on their projects and empowers our designers to include carbon in the decision making process. This year we have also established a new infrastructure industry coalition to explore the big questions about what the sector can do to support the transition to net zero.

But is reducing the carbon impact of our projects ambitious enough at a time when we all need to urgently strive towards the net zero goal?

Achieving net zero will require fundamental changes to the way we live and the systems that support us, including our utilities, transport and food production. This will be powered by new thinking, new technologies and new business models. Changes to behaviours, regulations and incentives, sustained investment and collaboration across sectors will all play a part. Mott MacDonald has a key role in driving this change.

An essential step forward

While net zero is a societal necessity, many of our clients are not sure of their role in achieving this goal. They often operate in competitive business environments and lack a clear emission reduction strategy. Many of them do not yet fully understand their carbon impact, where their carbon hotspots are, or how to reduce emissions in a cost-effective manner.

When it comes to infrastructure projects, embodied carbon is big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, even if it is often wrongly overlooked. For example, cement production contributes around 8% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, more than double what the aviation sector produces. If cement production were a country, it would be the world’s third biggest emitter, behind only China and the USA.

This is where we step in – helping clients achieve cost and carbon savings in a systematic way, without compromising on efficiency. In part thanks to our expertise, some of the UK’s biggest companies can now understand and reduce their carbon impact, including National Grid, the Environment Agency, HS2, Highways England, Crossrail 2, Thames Tideway, Transport for London, Heathrow Airport, and water companies such as Anglian, Yorkshire and Scottish Water. Overseas, Abu Dhabi’s ADSSC and New Zealand’s Watercare also entrusted us with their carbon cutting efforts.

Low carbon infrastructure isn’t the whole solution, but it is an essential step on the pathway to achieving a net zero society, and something we can support our clients with now. It is not only our duty to act, but a business opportunity for us to maximise.

We are running our 7th annual Carbon Crunch event on 27 November 2019 at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London, for invited guests. Please get in touch with mark.crouch@mottmac.com, maria.manidaki@mottmac.com or kim.yates@mottmac.com if you would like to attend.

Mark Crouch

Carbon management team lead

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