Early decision-making crucial to decarbonising infrastructure assets


Infrastructure leaders at FIDIC’s Global Leadership Forum (GLF) Summit in Geneva received early sight of a White Paper produced by one of its think tanks to determine how infrastructure decarbonisation can be accelerated through better decision-making across the whole sector.

Authored by Ramboll and Arcadis, the report provides guidelines for consulting engineering firms and will be published later this year once GLF member consultation has concluded. Thanks also go to AECOM, Mott-Macdonald, JP Morgan and WSP colleagues who contributed as part of the think tank work.

That acceleration is crucial to tackling climate change. According to the UN Environment Programme, infrastructure is responsible for 79% of greenhouse gas emissions and 88% of all adaptation costs being faced by the world. 

Discussions were led by Jens-Peter Saul, president and CEO of Ramboll Group and GLF Advisory Board Member, David Smith, technical director, sustainability advisory at Arcadis and Elina Kalliala, global sustainability director at Ramboll Transport. The white paper has examined issues such as optimisation of design, materials selections and policy impact, recognising that a significant part of the lasting emissions from infrastructure assets are locked in very early, even before the development of the project starts.

There was an acceptance that a diversity of standards and tools now existed and many of these should support early decision-making around an infrastructure asset. Those decisions can impact on not only land uses, feasibility and design, but on construction, operation, maintenance and end of life decommissioning.  

With that in mind, summit attendees debated what actions were needed to recommend to the whole industry to encourage improvements across the entire process of infrastructure development and its lifecycle. Those recommendations will now be fed back into the think tank team’s final report, which will be published to the full Global Leadership Forum membership soon.

The final document will also provide a series of case studies on what good looks like, to help better inform the whole industry not only on what is possible, but how to achieve it.