The UK Net Zero Infrastructure Industry Coalition was formed to take a practical approach to the challenge of national decarbonisation. I’m proud to report that, a year on, it has made its first major contribution and has further guidance in development.
We convened the UK Net Zero Infrastructure Industry Coalition in summer 2019 following the UK government’s pledge to reduce national emissions to net-zero by 2050, in order to take practical action to realise the goal. The coalition has brought together forward-thinking UK infrastructure industry businesses and public sector organisations.
The coalition members share a belief that net-zero must be an industry-wide mission that transcends traditional business relationships. From the outset we worked with government departments to identify the issues where the industry could add value. The coalition has been working on several over the last year.
In July we released a report, The path to zero carbon heat, that explores the scale of change needed to make heat carbon-free – the heating of buildings and thermal energy for infrastructure between them account for approximately 40% of carbon emissions in the UK. Produced by Mott MacDonald and our coalition partners, the report provides clarity on what needs to happen and when, with detailed roadmaps for three pathways (hydrogen, electric and hybrid), the risks for each and a summary of the 'low regrets' actions that align across all three.
The report is an end-to end-representation of a complex set of systems and their timelines and dependencies, highlighting the changes that will need to happen across the next three decades – from power generation, through conversion and storage, transmission and distribution to heating systems and end-users.
Our intention is to help industry see where the first steps can be made, where the most difficult problems lie and where there will be business benefit in aligning investment with the end goal.
The coalition is now examining city-scale transition to net-zero, considering the challenges and opportunities facing city leaders, and the interdependencies between local and central government. Working with Leeds City Council and representatives from central government the coalition will be producing a short report before the end of 2020 that summarises the conclusions and recommendations.
The coalition is also investigating the embodied carbon in the UK infrastructure pipeline. It is essential that the industry understands the quantum of carbon that will be emitted in the course of constructing the new infrastructure required to meet social, economic and environmental needs and to enable the transition to net-zero over the coming 29 years to 2050. This project is led by coalition member Skanska with support from The Carbon Trust.
The coalition has maintained momentum despite the challenges presented by COVID-19. Staying focused on the goal of achieving net-zero by 2050 is something that all in the infrastructure industry need to do. I congratulate my colleagues in Mott MacDonald and in our coalition partners – and I thank the leaders of all those companies active in the coalition for their commitment to providing the resources that have enabled this high quality work to proceed and continue.
In addition to forming and supporting the coalition we’re committed to driving net-zero carbon as an industry agenda in a variety of ways, including the Carbon Crunch seminar series, held annually since 2013. Read our position and commitments on net-zero.