“Large investment in the green transition needed” – Mads Brandt Rasmussen

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As global leaders attend COP27, COWI’s Mads Brandt Rasmussen (MBR) says too little has been done and governments must decarbonise for stability.

IG: As COP 27 focuses attention on practical climate actions and outcomes, are we making sufficient progress on meeting global and local ambitions for decarbonisation?

MBR: “We are not at all near the goal regarding global or local ambitions for decarbonisation. There is a high focus on climate change and decarbonations both among the public and from the world leaders, but this is only talk. There is a need for large investment in the green transition and this will involve public institutions, universities and private companies all executing the green transition with the design and construction of infrastructure projects.

“Some of the sectors in need of focus are infrastructure for public transportation, cargo and the energy sector to accelerate decarbonisation. This will also help to stabilise the world economy in light of the war in Ukraine and high gas prices and it will help to progress the economy. It is also important to consider life cycle analysis in all projects to evaluate whether the project is a green project.”

IG: Who or what are the key barriers or ‘blockers’ to faster climate action?

MBR: “One of the key barriers is the lack of resources all around the world. So, all the projects that are on the drawing board may not be able to go ahead and support decarbonisation. There must be focus on how to gain more resources in the world to cover all the upcoming projects, or deselect the projects that have the lowest benefit for decarbonisation.

“Also, the public sector – governments, institutions or municipalities – are a barrier to decarbonisation because it is here that a lot of decisions are made and taken on what infrastructure will be prioritised. So, if it is an election year then there may be a lot of promises from politicians regarding the green transition. This generates a lot discussion regarding public transportation or the energy sector or the agriculture sector, and which of them need support to develop.

“We also need to consider the key barrier that is the human aspect. There is a population of over seven billion people. Therefore, we need to consider how to speed up the climate actions on a human level as well as global level.”

IG: How important is it that we establish comprehensive and trusted carbon calculation across every part of the infrastructure industry?

MBR: “From my perspective it is very important to establish carbon calculations across all the infrastructure industry and combine it with a life cycle analysis. That will enable us to establish a foundation for how long a project can live and if it is worth it, regarding the carbon footprint. This will also give an estimate for how much a project will cost and establish if it is worth it from an economic perspective.

“There are a lot of factors to consider in creating these calculations so that they can be used on a valid foundation to decide a project will go ahead or not. After all, it is the long perspective that must choose the right investments in the right areas of the world.”

IG: What is the single most significant action available to industry to achieve climate ambitions?

MBR: “It all depends on where in the world we are living. In Europe, it may be looking into how the public transportation can be incorporated in the daily life of families so they take the bus, trains or trams around when they are going out. That will require the trains and buses across Europe to be upgraded to fulfil those needs.

“Across the world, the energy sector will need a massive investment to be upgraded or rebuilt. Look into the developing countries, there is a need for power plants or wind farms to deliver electrical power to their cites and countries, but there is also a need for water plants and drainage as well. And in the western part of the world there is a high knowledge and technology in the energy sector that needs to be used all over the world.

So, the first step is to create a fundamental link between the knowledge and technology in the developed countries and the developing countries so that they can access that knowledge and technology.”