Image: Korn Vitthayanukarun/Dreamstime
Major contractors were among more than 120 business leaders to write to prime minister Theresa May last week to urge the government to adopt a target for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by 2050.
Multiplex, Skanska, and Willmott Dixon were among the contractors to sign the letter, organised by the UK Green Building Council and published in the Financial Times.
Addressed to May, it said: “We are writing to ask you to act immediately to put in legislation the Committee on Climate Change (CCC)’s recommendation for a UK 2050 net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target.
“However, the credibility of a net-zero target relies on it being rapidly underpinned by a robust set of policies. As you know, priority areas include energy efficiency, accelerating the transition to electric vehicles, advancing the UK’s industrial and power sector decarbonisation, securing reductions from buildings, aviation and shipping, and addressing land use and agriculture.”
The letter highlighted how many signatories were adopting more energy efficient practices, transitioning to electric vehicles, and setting their own net-zero and science-based targets.
But it added: “We need effective, long-term policies to support the investment and innovation required if the UK is to accelerate the necessary transition and ensure it is delivered fairly.”
Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive at UKGBC said: “The writing’s on the wall for business and policymakers alike: the time for climate action is now. This letter demonstrates that the climate crisis is rising to the top of boardroom agendas by the sheer number of business heavyweights calling for Government to legislate for a net zero carbon UK.
40% of total carbon footprint
"No doubt many of these leaders recognise the growing opportunities of transforming their businesses for a net zero carbon economy. Given that the built environment contributes around 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint, this is particularly true of the construction and property industry, so we’re delighted to see so many of our members as signatories on this letter.”
The letter comes after UKGBC launched a new framework to help government and businesses achieve a net zero carbon built environment.
Skanska UK, which was among the signatories to the letter, aims for its portfolio of projects to be carbon neutral by 2045. It aims to cut total emissions by 50% of the 2010 level by 2030.
“What makes these targets different is they all include the emissions produced by the whole of our supply chain, from their work on our projects” said Skanska UK’s president and CEO, Gregor Craig. “We think that’s really important. The construction industry is different to other sectors. You’ve got to look at emissions produced by sub-contractors and suppliers during construction and maintenance. If you only look at your own direct emissions, you don’t get a true picture. Without that bigger picture, you can’t set the right strategy to deal with the emissions created.”