Decarbonisation targets will fail without better leadership, warn civil engineers

Bolder steps are required to enable quicker and more effective decarbonisation of Scotland’s infrastructure, according to a new report.

Decarbonisation targets will fail without better leadership, warn civil engineers

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Scotland commissioned engineering, management and development consultancy Mott MacDonald to look at how best to support the delivery of Net Zero and decarbonise Scotland’s infrastructure.

The report was developed following consultation with stakeholders across the infrastructure planning and delivery landscape - including the Scottish Government, infrastructure providers, local authorities, academia, and the business sector.

It concluded that Scotland is still falling short of targets and leadership and funding, alongside an improved planning and regulatory system, is needed to ensure decarbonisation is embedded throughout infrastructure.

There are five key recommendations:

  1. There should be a Scottish infrastructure coalition created where key national infrastructure providers and stakeholders can convene to demonstrate leadership, share learnings and plan for an integrated economy-wide transition to net zero aligned infrastructure.
  2. Public sector procurement should include a consistent focus on carbon reduction.
  3. The planning process requires more investment to enable the pace and scale of change required to deliver net zero infrastructure.
  4. Greater use of systems thinking along with digital tools should be used to identify interactions and efficiencies between traditionally separate sectors.
  5. Develop a Scottish Government good practice note on why and how place-based approaches bring advantages to net zero delivery.

ICE Scotland director, Hannah Smith, said: “It is clear from this report that there is a huge amount of positive work being done in our sector. But it is also clear that work must be accelerated, or we will simply not meet the 2045 commitment to net zero.

“This report is not a panacea but rather the blueprint for future activity. We believe the first step must be the creation of a forum – similar to the Scottish Infrastructure Commission – to utilise the expertise across infrastructure providers and ensure all those involved remain focused on ensuring decarbonisation becomes a reality.”

Mott MacDonald’s principal sustainability consultant, Alan Hendry, said: “It is clear from our research and conversations with those commissioning, designing and delivering infrastructure in Scotland that there is some great work happening on the net zero agenda. However, the key message is that the scale and pace of this needs to increase significantly if we are to meet our net zero targets.”

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