Infrastructure will play a significant role in determining whether Australia will meet its net zero emissions goals according to the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA). It also needs to be more climate resilient in response to the increased number and severity of extreme weather events such as flooding, tropical storms and the recent bushfires that cost billions of dollars in damage.
The ISCA’s Issues paper, released in conjunction with Climate Works Australia and the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC), estimates that infrastructure accounts for about 70 per cent of carbon emissions.
Australia might already be experiencing social and economic trends toward sustainability by 2050, both in the private sector and in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement. However, infrastructure projects in progress are expected to last beyond that timeframe.
ASBEC executive director Suzanne Toumbourou says stakeholders at all levels must begin preparing for decarbonisation within the next year if the country hopes to meet these future expectations.
“With billions of dollars in the infrastructure pipeline, and the need to rapidly rebuild infrastructure after this summer’s natural disasters, now is the time for consensus about what role infrastructure can play in achieving a net zero emissions future,” Toumbourou said.
The most significant reforms to be made are in the transportation sector. The Issues paper recommends using low impact construction materials, optimising rail design to increase energy efficiency and creating more convenient public transportation options to cut down on traffic and car emissions.
In the coming months, ISCA, Climate Works and ASBEC will reach out to investors, governments, and members of the construction industry as consultants to establish frameworks and policies for future sustainable projects ISCA chief executive officer CEO Ainsley Simpson said.
ISCA announced its position on climate change last week, deeming human influence a critical issue and committing to low carbon, climate resilient projects in recognition that “infrastructure is a fundamental factor in determining our region’s future well-being.”