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Shaping Zero: ICE Carbon Champions. What are you going to do?

27 January 2021

Following the launch of her Shaping Zero film last year, ICE President Rachel Skinner outlines the next phase of ICE's programme for the coming year - Carbon Champions.

Shaping Zero: ICE Carbon Champions. What are you going to do?
Shaping Zero: Carbon Champions: What are you going to do?

I am delighted to be able to confirm that 2021 has started with a carbon-led bang. Shaping Zero is helping to show the world how civil engineering holds many of the keys that can slow, and eventually halt, climate change.

Today marks the initial launch of the next part of the ICE’s Shaping Zero programme for this year: I’d like to invite you all to help us, by becoming ICE Carbon Champions.

ICE Carbon Champions: be recognised for your carbon best practice

To build and accelerate my Shaping Zero efforts, we are keen to recognise people and teams who are already on the path to reducing carbon. Our goal is to encourage a fast-growing team of ICE Carbon Champions, keen to share, collaborate and learn from each other.

Why should you take part?

Beyond being one of the first to secure ICE Carbon Champion status, we are also going to select, showcase and broadcast a range of examples through new filmed content and interviews throughout 2021. You could be a part of this – and together we can help others across the 95,000 strong ICE international community to join in with the journey to net zero carbon.

This means that we are on the hunt for case studies and evidenced stories of carbon reduction, large and small. We have kept the process as simple as possible. Any initiative, project or investment could fit with this; we want to hear from you and your team if you are making a conscious effort to cut carbon. Full details about how to submit are here, but in a nutshell:

    1. Your project, programme or investment can be at any stage: strategy, concept, design, construction or already in operation.
    2. Your initiative can be at any scale and in any sector. We want to showcase good practice from the very smallest project to the largest programme or system.
    3. There’s just one catch: to submit your initiative you need to have some form of measurement attached (even if very simple or from first principles) so we can understand the planned and/or actual benefit to carbon emissions.

Become an ICE Carbon Champion

    What’s the crucial link between infrastructure, net zero carbon and climate change?

    In my last blog and in my Shaping Zero film, I explained net-zero carbon using a bath analogy. This time, I want to explain the link between infrastructure and carbon dioxide emissions, and how this is hard-wired to climate change.

    Carbon dioxide is the primary driver of climate change in 2021, driving global warming along with other potent greenhouse gases. This warming is accelerating and it is disrupting our natural systems, increasing the frequency and intensity of natural disasters and extreme weather. It poses a wholesale existential threat to our long-run future unless we can bring carbon emissions down, fast, to a ‘net zero’ level where our natural systems and technologies can cope.

    • Where does the carbon dioxide come from? Since the Industrial Revolution we’ve been burning fossil fuels to release energy – to create products and materials, run vehicles or machinery – and this releases carbon dioxide. While there is fast growth in renewable and other low carbon sources, more than 75% of the world’s ever-growing energy demand is still provided by fossil fuels. And it isn’t just about energy. Concrete production also creates carbon dioxide. Each year we produce four billion tonnes of concrete for construction and infrastructure of all types. After water, in fact, concrete is the second most widely used substance on earth.
    • Why does this matter to infrastructure? Because almost all of our infrastructure systems use energy: transport, buildings, water, waste, digital and so on. Nearly every time we design, build or improve a physical asset, we use materials that have a carbon impact when they are created. It gets worse: more often than not, the onward existence of the infrastructure asset itself encourages long-run carbon-hungry behaviours as we move, live and work.

    In short, a massive 70% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions are linked to infrastructure through its creation and use. To get climate change under control, we must cut this in half by 2030.

    Coming up next: Where are my carbon emissions?

    Thank you once again for taking the time to read this. I can’t wait to confirm the first group of ICE Carbon Champions – and I hope to be able to showcase your great ideas and best practice to the ider industry and beyond.Please click the link above to take part.

    Application terms and conditions and guidance can be found here.

    Thank you

    • Rachel Skinner, chair at Infrastructure Client Group - Task Group