Industry first partnership aims for net-zero in transport

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An industry-first partnership between Roads Australia (RA), the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) and the Infrastructure Sustainability Council will help identify the ways government and industry stakeholders can accelerate decarbonisation throughout the transport industry.

Making the announcement today, the three bodies said they were united in their efforts to help reduce the climate change impact of new and existing transport infrastructure.

The focus of the project will be to showcase best-in-class initiatives and make policy recommendations that help Australia achieve net zero emissions by 2050, in line with the Paris Accord.

This partnership underscores the transport infrastructure sector’s commitment to enhanced sustainability outcomes and follows the IPCC Report released last month.

The IPCC Report reinforced the urgent need for decarbonisation across the economy to achieve the Paris targets and avoid some of the significant impacts of climate change on our communities and regions.

RA, the ARA and the Infrastructure Sustainability Council have engaged KPMG to undertake the study, which will culminate in a report to be published later this year. The focus will be on identifying ways government and industry stakeholders can accelerate decarbonisation throughout a transport asset’s lifecycle, by reducing embodied, operating, and enabled emissions.

The strategic importance of this project is supported by the partnership’s collective members, including those common to all three partnership organisations. This includes Arup, which has been engaged as the report sponsor.

In 2020, the Reshaping Infrastructure for net zero report estimated that transport construction contributed around half of infrastructure’s total annual construction emissions and approximately a third of infrastructure’s enabled emissions – or equivalent of around 121 Metric tons of carbon dioxide (Mt CO2e).

RA CEO Michael Kilgariff said the organisations involved in the initiative understood the impact transport infrastructure has on the environment and climate change.

“No single organisation can effectively address the challenge. This partnership recognises that strong collaboration between government and industry is required to meet national and global sustainability goals and community expectations,” he said.

ARA CEO Caroline Wilkie said the partnership presented a great opportunity for the transport sector to come together to support the development of sustainable, resilient, and connected communities as Australia moves to net zero.

“This collaboration reflects the shared commitment of our sector to showcase best practice and deliver real solutions to enhance the sustainable development of transport infrastructure in Australia,” Wilkie said.

“Over the last decade consideration of the quadruple bottom line, with a particular focus on environmental sustainability and net zero, has become standard practice for many large transport projects,” said Infrastructure Sustainability Council CEO Ainsley Simpson.

“This industry-first collaboration will help our shared members maximise their capability, commitment and experience to help every part of our sector accelerate toward our net-zero future,” she said.

“We are delighted to be working with RA, the ARA and the Infrastructure Sustainability Council on this timely piece of work addressing environmental sustainability in transport infrastructure – and to provide support for the cause through our Corporate Citizenship program,” said Alistair Coulstock, Director KPMG Climate Change and Sustainability.

“This thought leadership piece will showcase some great transport infrastructure projects in Australia and overseas. More importantly, it is an opportunity to identify vital policy recommendations that will assist federal and state government decision-making to map out a practical pathway towards a low carbon future.”

Kerryn Coker, Co-Chair, Arup Australasia said that Arup was keen to support Australia’s transport sector in scaling-up current sustainability initiatives and implementing new ones.

“We see multiple opportunities for positive change through a combination of existing and new technology,” Coker said.

“Governments can make significant impact through policies, and as major transport infrastructure and service providers – influencing low carbon investment choices across construction, manufacturing, fuels, operations, maintenance and decommissioning. We see this report as a catalyst for more sustainable public and private transport ecosystems with enduring social benefits.”

Infrastructure Sustainability Council Chief Executive Officer Ainsley Simpson will take part in two webinars hosted by RA and the ARA this week.

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