Tackling climate change can be central to the National Infrastructure Strategy and achieving the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, says the Institution of Civil Engineers.
The long-awaited publication by the Government, due in the autumn, should include a clear plan that outlines how the UK’s infrastructure networks will be transitioned to net-zero emissions, to ensure we meet the ambitious 2050 target.
The recommendation of a Net-Zero Infrastructure Plan, which would sit within the Government’s National Infrastructure Strategy, was put forward by the Institution in July, in their flagship State of the Nation report.
In a detailed policy paper, published today, further details of what this plan should consider, and the key policy choices that need to be made, are examined.
ICE Fellow Jim Hall, who led the paper’s development, said it was essential that the policy choices for transitioning infrastructure to net-zero were clearly set out.
“While Covid-19 has rightly attracted political attention in recent months, this does not detract from the need for urgent action on climate change, said Hall. " 2050 may seem distant, but in many cases the infrastructure currently in use, and under development, will still be in use in 2050.
“A de-carbonisation programme of the scale and complexity required for the net-zero transformation cannot be delivered without a robust plan, which will need to be regularly updated reflecting progress, changes in socioeconomic circumstances and technological developments.”
ICE sets out that the development of the plan should include a systemic stock take of existing policies, regulations and legislation to ensure they are consistent with net-zero. The paper outlines the four key areas where policy choices need to be made: the future energy mix; pathways to de-carbonising transport; pathways for de-carbonising heat; and reducing emissions from harder-to-abate sectors.
It examines important policy choices on the future make-up of the UK’s energy mix must be made, including considering what trade-offs must be made in terms of how to decarbonise energy generation; ensure energy security; and minimise energy costs for users.
It also explores why the de-carbonisation of transport must be prioritised, particularly with transport responsible for 34% of all carbon emissions.
Read our infrastructure blog on transitioning infrastructure to net-zero here.