Delivering Low Carbon Infrastructure

Analysis of current carbon targets set by infrastructure clients, why they set them, the impact of the targets and a recommendation for industry.
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July 12, 2017

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The infrastructure industry is a vital part of the UK economy and the services it provides are essential for our modern society. Over £500 billion is planned to be invested in the construction of UK infrastructure between 2016 and 2030 and for each £1 billion of investment, UK GDP increases by £1.3 billion.

As well as planning significant investment in infrastructure, the UK is also planning large scale reductions in carbon emissions due to the threat from climate change. The UK has ratified the Paris Agreement which requires a net zero carbon economy within the second half of this century. UK legislation also includes the Climate Change Act, which requires an 80% reduction in the UK’s carbon emissions by 2050, from a 1990 baseline.

The Infrastructure Carbon Review in 2013 showed that the infrastructure industry controls 16% of the UK’s total carbon emissions and has influence over a further 37%. This total impact figure of 53% is set to grow to 90% by 2050, due to decarbonisation in other sectors. Data from the Infrastructure Carbon Review indicates that the UK’s infrastructure sector needs to reduce its total carbon emissions to 34 MtCO2e/year by 2050 from a baseline of 157 MtCO2e/year in 2010.

In response to requests from UKGBC members for greater clarity on what the infrastructure industry is currently doing to address this need to decarbonise, UKGBC has produced this report which explores:
• what carbon targets clients are currently setting;
• why clients are setting these targets; and
• the impact these targets are having.

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