Nearly two thirds of construction businesses don’t believe the sector is ready to meet its net zero targets.
That’s the warning from a survey conducted by Balfour Beatty and the Supply Chain Sustainability School of nearly 40,000 of the construction and infrastructure industry’s supply chain partners.
The survey, the results of which are set out in a report called Greening the Chain, published ahead of COP26 to be held next month in Glasgow, was undertaken with the aim of understanding the barriers, issues and opportunities faced by the sector in achieving net zero.
Among the barriers to achieving net zero targets cited by respondents were a lack of skilled workers to bring about change; cost still being the deciding factor in many schemes; the lack of availability of low- or net-zero-carbon materials; and the need for earlier interaction leading to collaboration and design change before a bid is submitted.
Nonetheless, 74% of businesses said they believed the government’s push to net zero by 2050 is a positive opportunity for their business (13% view it as a risk), while 87% are already implementing or developing a carbon reduction strategy. Nearly three quarters (72%) have set a commitment to be net zero carbon, or set a science-based target, or are in the process of doing so.
Another issue that emerged in the survey as something which customers need to address is how they are asking for their data. Customers have started to target their suppliers’ decarbonisation plans as the need to decarbonise moves up the agenda, but this could potentially add a burden to smaller companies, the survey found.
Meanwhile, half of respondents said it was hard to get new, lower-carbon products, materials and processes adopted by customers because of conservatism when it comes to trying something new, as well as concerns about price.
Leo Quinn, Balfour Beatty Group chief executive, said: “The climate emergency is probably the biggest global societal challenge we have ever faced. It’s a challenge that will require all of us to pull together in the same direction.
“Whilst Balfour Beatty has long been at the vanguard of sustainability having halved our carbon emissions in the last decade, we know that more can and should be done. The United Nations Climate Change Conference is a welcome opportunity to accelerate this process forward, as we work in tandem with businesses across our industry and beyond to drive rapid, meaningful change.”