The road to Zero Carbon
In June the UK became the first G7 country to legislate for net zero carbon emissions by 2050. More ambitious than the 80% reduction commitment set out in the 2008 Climate Change Act, the new target is based largely on the Committee on Climate Change’s 2019 Progress Report.
We spoke to Neil Humphrey (Chief Operating Officer of Waterman Infrastructure & Environment) to get his insight into how this target could be met, the opportunities it offers and what this means for our industry.
Neil says; “Whilst questions remain in some quarters about the viability of a net zero carbon UK economy, delivery of the transition offers a host of opportunities across the board. With the Government committed to delivering on this promise, they will require fundamental and wide-ranging policy reforms to meet the target and inspire the nation to commit to the sort of behavioural changes needed to deliver significant results.”
Considering action to date on climate change, Neil continues; “Government action on the threat of climate change has steadily become more focused in recent months, resulting in the new carbon emission targets. This strong policy leadership will need to continue if we are to see the sweeping changes required to deliver the latest proposals. There are promising signs that associated policy and regulatory reforms, as suggested in the Committee on Climate Change’s 2019 Progress Report, could prioritise the type of innovative change needed to deliver the new target.”
The report offers a stark appraisal of progress to date, making suggestions for future action across all sectors and outlining the key areas a coherent national policy package would need to address. Recommendations for surface transport and its infrastructure focus on banning the sale of fossil fuel-powered vehicles, whilst rolling-out plans for zero emission HGV’s and making vast improvements to public transport, walking and cycling networks across the UK. Elsewhere, the report suggests the construction sector needs to phase out fossil fuel-consuming systems in all types of building, focusing instead on delivering energy efficient, low-carbon buildings which are adequately-designed to cope with the anticipated temperature rises.