Climate change is the biggest issue of our time
The built environment is one of the major contributors to carbon emissions. Reduction in carbon emissions have to occur if we are to avoid the worst effect of climate change.
Ever since the industrial revolution in the 1800’s, we have been increasingly pumping gases into the atmosphere that are causing the earth to heat up more quickly than any other time in the history of the planet. Anything we burn gives off these gases, carbon dioxide in the main, whether it be for electricity generation, space heating or vehicle fuels. But there are other sources too, such as from industrial processes, deforestation, composting and animal farming.
While the earth has been much hotter in the past, the rate of change is unprecedented and it is happening within in people’s lifetimes, rather than on geological timescales. The consequence is melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels plus more frequent and more extreme weather events.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (The IPCC) has said we should restrict any global temperature rises to no more than 1.5C overall if we are to avoid the worst effects. Reaching this is truly global challenge.
Through the Climate Change Act, the UK Government has committed the UK to an ambitious 80% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 based on 1990 levels. As such, the UK is now the first country in the world to adopt a long-term legal framework for reducing emissions through a system of “five-year” carbon budgets, providing a clear pathway towards this 2050 target.
Carbon Reporting: A contractor's perspective
Brian Handcock of Morgan Sindall gives the contractor’s perspective on how carbon reporting has helped their business, and what they expect from their supply chain.
The Construction 2025 targets and The Infrastructure Carbon Review both provide mechanisms and ambitions for our sector to actively tackle and reduce carbon emissions from the projects and assets we work on. The aim is to release the value of lower carbon solutions and to make carbon reduction part of the ongoing practice of the construction sector. There is a strong emphasis on how cost reduction actually reduces project costs both during construction and maintenance.
We must remember that direct emissions – exhaust from vehicles, stacks at power facilities – aren’t the only source, but also the embodied energy and carbon ‘locked up’ in the products we buy and use. This is the carbon released when energy is used to extract materials, transport, manufacturing process as well as the use and disposal of the product. We can all reduce our emissions by using less energy on site and in the things we buy by actively considering carbon from the design stage. Furthermore, reducing carbon can come in many guises: being resource efficient and creating less waste by using less material and recycling it will inherently have carbon benefits to.