NEWS / Blog / Organising and collaborating to meet the net zero challenge


07 SEP 2020


EIC and ACE members are leading the way as we strive for Net Zero infrastructure, says Poppy Kettle.


ovid-19 has highlighted the importance of resilience within society and infrastructure, and there is a general consensus that more concentration needs to be put into net zero projects. Despite the postponement of COP26 earlier this year, the joint EIC and ACE Net Zero report will still be released this year and is coming towards the final stages of research.

Following a survey we conducted, seeking insights from experts across EIC and ACE members we found that technical feasibility was not the main challenge holding us back from achieving net zero. The main pressures we encountered were surrounding client expectations, planning frameworks and regulatory challenges, amongst many others. In order to achieve net zero, it’s essential that these pressures are resolved to meet the technical capacities we already possess.

The EIC and ACE Net Zero group is built of leaders across the engineering consultancy sector. Following the survey we met in order to identify the sectors that lacked significant research into how to mitigate these challenges. With the challenges faced in the ports and rail sectors being of immediate concern, we have conducted two workshops bringing together leaders within these sectors to further inform the research being done by EIC and ACE. We are also conducting a following two workshops looking at the roads and buildings sectors in September.

The main pressures we encountered were surrounding client expectations, planning frameworks and regulatory challenges Poppy Kettle

In recognising the 2045 timeline for Scotland, and following on from a meeting that ACE Scotland had with Michael Matheson MSP earlier this year, we are creating a paper for Scottish Government on reaching the net zero 2045 target. With the help of experts in Scottish infrastructure we established the main challenges and the capacity for ACE and EIC members to support Scottish government achieve their net zero agenda.

Net Zero frameworks have not yet been interpreted into the planning system, something that is essential in reaching the UK Net Zero targets. Considering this, EIC and ACE have been working with Lancaster University to create a paper assessing the role of Environmental Impact Assessments in meeting the UK Net Zero 2050 targets. This paper is looking at qualitative and quantitative results based on interviews with leaders across the industry and is an insight into the way the planning system may develop to facilitate the changes needed in the infrastructure industry.

Throughout the project, we have interviewed hundreds of member experts across the engineering consultancy sector who have helped to inform our research and shape the project. In doing this we have learned of many case studies that highlight the amazing work that members are doing in net zero, and so are creating a database of member case studies.  As Net Zero is a growing but still emerging area, we are working towards a comprehensive map of members and wider stakeholders with projects in net zero. This will include universities as well as cross company initiatives, with the hope of allowing members to find areas of collaboration and to identify the areas that still lack significant work.

Poppy Kettle was previously Net Zero Policy Adviser at EIC, and led the work of the joint EIC and ACE group.This blog originally appeared in Infrastructure Intelligence and also appears on the ACE website.