Exclusive: Decarbonisation report looks to reshape project lifecycles


IG has been given early sight of the Global Leadership Forum’s report on decarbonisation – produced in collaboration with Ramboll and Arcadis ahead of its public release Singapore in September. 

As much as 80% the carbon generated through an infrastructure asset’s lifetime is determined at the earliest decision-making phases, according to a new report by global industry leaders as they seek to guide the infrastructure towards lower carbon outcomes.

The new report, entitled Decarbonising the Infrastructure Sector, has examined in detail the lifecycle of a project to better understand when and how decision-making can harness opportunities and overcome specific challenges. In doing so, it aims to set out the path for lower carbon outcomes throughout the many decades that each new new infrastructure asset may operate.

Produced in collaboration with Ramboll and Arcadis, the report was undertaken by the Global Leadership Forum’s Sustainable Development think tank to collate current best practice, consider existing problems, and to set out the next steps for the whole global industry.

Why this matters

Infrastructure is responsible for substantial greenhouse gas emissions throughout its lifecycle. It is also central to successful decarbonisation and replacing fossil fuels at the heart of the global economy.

As a result, decades of carbon impact can be influenced by the decisions made by asset owners, managers, designers, constructors, and material suppliers at every stage of an infrastructure asset’s lifecycle if everyone involved is fully aware of the opportunities available. 

This new report, which has the backing of infrastructure leaders spanning engineering, asset owners, investors and technologists highlights the current best practices, challenges and opportunities with a view to committing the whole global industry to making the best decisions.

For example, the report emphasises the importance of getting early interventions right even before reaching the feasibility and investment phase, and it looks at what tools are needed to achieve better decision-making at all subsequent phases.  

Why now?

The need for rapid decarbonisation of the global economy could not be clearer and, unlike most consumer sectors, decisions being made now about the construction of new infrastructure will still be impacting on carbon output in many decades time, with most infrastructure outliving its builders.

The scale of this and other challenges saw the formation of the Global Leadership Forum (GLF) – a group of infrastructure leaders from all continents and sectors who came together last year to set a strategic direction for the industry. In doing so, they initiated four think tanks to examine key issues and commission research reports that would help to reshape the infrastructure industry.

The early findings of this decarbonisation report were opened up for debate among those global leaders at their first ever summit in Geneva this spring. Following their deliberations, the report authors continued their work.

As a result, the report sets out considerations for everyone involved in each phase of a project lifecycle, starting at land use and planning and running right through to the resulting asset’s end of life phase.

It also sets out a series of commitments from the GLF to create new tools that will help everyone across the industry make better decisions and recognise what the very best practices are.

Global industry leaders will now have time to read the report and potentially start to build its commitments into their investment, design or maintenance programmes ahead of the report being discussed and published for the wider industry at the Global Infrastructure Conference in Singapore in September.

Dr Nelson Ogunshakin OBE, CEO of FIDIC, the international engineering federation, said: “Climate change is an existential threat and we need to ensure the whole infrastructure sector is able to drive forward the best possible decisions and solutions for achieving net zero. FIDIC is pleased to be part of this important journey and we look forward to publicly launching this valuable research at FIDICs Global Infrastructure Conference in Singapore this September.”

To find out about attending the Global Infrastructure Conference taking place in Singapore on the 11 and 12 of September, click here.