Our Sustainability team works with businesses across the UK and Ireland to plan, design and build the infrastructure needed to reduce their carbon footprint. Made up of individuals who are driven by the green agenda, our people are passionate about sustainability, striving to build a better world for future generations.
As we continue to catch up with some of the rising talent in our team, we meet Alice Gibbs an Environmental Consultant in our Brighton office. Alice is especially interested in the issues surrounding resource consumption and waste generation and the search for alternative, sustainable solutions that are needed sooner rather than later.
How can your specialism support clients on their journey to net zero?
We can provide environmental permitting support, such as for carbon capture and utilisation projects, which are likely to play a big part in the UK’s journey to net zero carbon. We also have experience of permitting facilities under the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS), which aims to reduce overall emissions of certain greenhouse gases (including CO2) across the EU through a ‘cap and trade’ system. The post-Brexit UK ETS is likely to follow a very similar format and we will be able to help with that too.
What’s the best thing about your role?
I really enjoy the variety of tasks and projects I work on. I like when I get the chance to learn new things and expand my (and the team’s) experience.
Where do you think the biggest opportunities lie in the quest for NZC?
I think carbon capture technology will play a big role. I also think that long-term behavioural changes could make a difference, such as designing for reuse and repair, i.e. circular economy, and making these options accessible to everyone (people don’t always have the luxury of the time or money to do these).
What do you think are the biggest obstacles to overcome to achieve NZC?
I’m no expert, but I think a big obstacle is short term vs long term thinking. A lot of people are just trying to get through their life now, businesses are trying to make money where they can now, governments are trying to make the changes that will impact the country now – while they’re still around to have a share of the rewards. But, some of the more impactful changes might not bring any reward now, while this government is in power, or while a CEO is running their business, or even while a person is living, so why should they spend their resources getting there? We need to help people see past the here and now and encourage them to help build a better world for future generations.
What would be the one policy you would implement or change in support of NZC?
I would implement a policy that makes setting science-based targets compulsory for all businesses so they would be legally obliged to look at spending their money (and other resources) on lower carbon approaches to the work they do.
What are your predictions for the future as companies work towards NZC? What could we be doing in 2049 as the deadline draws nearer?
The best case would be that we are on track to achieve our NZC target on time. Businesses and governments will have a range of low carbon projects in place which they will be continuing to improve and implement in a more sustainable economy.
On the flip side if we did not achieve the NZC target we could be dealing with the ramifications of that, such as more frequent extreme weather events (although perhaps they won’t be considered extreme any more due to the regularity), mass migrations of displaced people, loss of biodiversity and so on.
What’s the most important piece of advice you would give a client starting their NZC journey?
I would advise them to reach out and work with an expert who knows what they’re talking about and will guide them in their NZC journey while also considering the impacts to their business.
Your carbon footprint might be complex, but your journey to net zero doesn’t have to be. Alex Mozaffari, Director for Sustainability looks at some of the challenges businesses face as they strive to achieve net zero carbon and how they can set up for success by getting the right strategy in place.
Conall Boland leads our sustainability team in Ireland, where infrastructure projects in the water, transportation and energy sectors are key activities. He sees big challenges and opportunities for the infrastructure sector in meeting the 2050 carbon reduction targets.
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