Infrastructure leaders debate net zero pathway recommendations


Industry leaders from the global infrastructure ecosystem have used a global summit to examine and debate recommendations for actions on decarbonisation pathways.

FIDIC’s Global Leadership Forum received the draft report on net zero pathways, produced by its Sustainability Think Tank, at their inaugural summit in Geneva, before spending three hours examining and debating recommendations for action that the industry will take.

The report, developed in partnership with EY, was presented to global leaders from across the infrastructure ecosystem by its authors, before the summit began to prepare the plan of action to speed up decarbonisation of the infrastructure sector, which is central to the world’s ambitions for net zero.

The scale of the challenge
The extent of the challenge faced is significant. The world is on course for more than 2°C of climate change and significantly higher levels of investment will be needed, along with faster adoption of sustainable practices, materials and designs. This is despite a significant rise in investment in sustainable infrastructure projects and funding across the world already.

The massive commitment seen in recent years has not yet seen carbon emissions fall and this trend will likely continue despite present large commitments for further funding in the years ahead. As a result, infrastructure leaders at the summit were warned that something must change quickly to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

However, the authors of the report also emphasised to delegates that while this might seem an insurmountable challenge, they had to take an optimistic message to the world that it had changed rapidly before. The depletion of the ozone layer was overcome quickly thanks to targeted action and industry innovation and while climate change is an even larger and more complex challenge, the transition to net zero is possible and will be achieved.

Identifying the right pathway
To do that, the report’s authors told the summit that the implications of this were that net zero required a massive expansion in sustainable infrastructure investment. Such a rapid growth in sustainable solutions will likely draw investment away from fossil fuel investment and bring about a subsequent challenge for supply chain sectors as they adapt to new approaches and to deliver sufficient minerals, raw materials and capital.

In light of that, identifying the right pathway to achieve net zero will be important. While the think tank has examined a series of possible pathways to impact quickly, the summit delegates will now debate the key recommendations that would help to truly deliver faster change across global infrastructure.

Those discussions examined how sufficient project pipelines could be developed for investment, how to ensure best practices and new technologies were more widely recognised and adopted and how to ensure the differences across continents could be properly reflected.

With the delegates seeking to arrive at a collective strategic direction for infrastructure, the report authors will now incorporate their recommendations ahead of the publication to the Global Leadership Forum membership in early summer.