Infrastructure too carbon-heavy: Aust data

Angelo Risso
(Australian Associated Press)


The peak body for sustainable infrastructure-building in Australia has demanded a transformation of the way in which projects are planned, designed and delivered to achieve 2050 net-zero carbon emissions targets.

A data review conducted by the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia, to be outlined at the group’s annual conference in Melbourne on Thursday, found about 70 per cent of Australian carbon emissions are directly attributed to or influenced by infrastructure projects.

Of this 70 per cent, about 15 per cent is via infrastructure-building and 55 per cent through use of the infrastructure.

ISCA chief executive Ainsley Simpson says major changes are required to move Australia towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – the professed goal of each state and territory.

Amid widespread calls for more government infrastructure spending to kickstart a slowing economy, Ms Simpson said carbon emissions reduction needed to be central to the entire construction process.

“We need to change the way we go about planning, designing, delivering and operating assets. In order for that to happen and achieve net zero, it’s going to require more than just incremental improvements,” Ms Simpson told AAP.

“It’s actually going to require transformation and innovation and collaboration well beyond the way in which business as usual is done today.

“This is going to be challenging.”

Some $200 billion of infrastructure is required every five years to keep up with population growth, Infrastructure Australia argues.

The federal government has committed $100 billion over 10 years.

Ms Simpson said ISCA was assessing 125 assets across Australia and New Zealand, totalling more than $160 billion in capital investment.

The peak body has a certification scheme by which it measures infrastructure projects against best practice for minimising emissions.

That includes the Sydney Metro North West Project, which will on Thursday be recognised as the first project to earn ISCA sustainability certification.

All greenhouse gas emissions from operation of the metro are offset, in part through the development of a 95-megawatt regional NSW solar farm.

“We provide the framework of best practice and reward and recognise practice that goes beyond compliance and regulations,” Ms Simpson said.

“The things we measure are typically social, cultural, economic, environmental aspects, and that’s over a range of 44 different categories.

“What we believe is that what gets measured, gets managed.”

While Ms Simpson would outline research statistics on Thursday, she said the full data review would be released in November.


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