21st September 2017

Knowledge Type

Good Practice Document Data & Statistics


, UK Green Building Council

Major Project


Of Interest To

Consultants Public sector clients Academia Contractors Investors Leadership teams Operators Private sector clients

Delivering Low Carbon Infrastructure


As well as planning significant investment in infrastructure, the UK is also planning large scale reductions in carbon emissions due to the threat from climate change. The UK has ratified the Paris Agreement which requires a net zero carbon economy within the second half of this century. UK legislation also includes the Climate Change Act, which requires an 80% reduction in the UK’s carbon emissions by 2050, from a 1990 baseline.

The Infrastructure Carbon Review in 2013 showed that the infrastructure industry controls 16% of the UK’s total carbon emissions and has influence over a further 37%. This total impact figure of 53% is set to grow to 90% by 2050, due to decarbonisation in other sectors.Data from the Infrastructure Carbon Review indicates that the UK’s infrastructure sector needs to reduce its total carbon emissions to 34 MtCO2e/year by 2050 from a baseline of
157 MtCO2e/year in 2010.

In response to requests from UK-GBC members for greater clarity on what the infrastructure
industry is currently doing to address this need to decarbonise, UK Green Building Council has produced a
report which explores:

• what carbon targets clients are currently setting;
• why clients are setting these targets; and
• the impact these targets are having.

Informed by detailed interviews with a selection of significant infrastructure clients and desktop research, the main findings are:

• There is no specific target for the infrastructure industry which organisations and projects can work towards.
• There is little similarity in ambition, duration and scope of the targets being set in the infrastructure industry.
• There is no single method used by all the surveyed clients to set their carbon targets.
• Regulators play a role in addressing carbon, however, they are not explicit in setting targets for carbon reductions and driving performance.

Based on the findings, UK-GBC is recommending the establishment of a whole life carbon target for the infrastructure industry based on climate science and from which organisations can derive commensurate targets. The monitoring of such a target, and the reporting of progress against it, will be crucial.