COP26, ESG, Manchester, Sustainability, Sustainable Legacies

As the world looks to Glasgow for the COP26 conference on climate change, we’ll be discussing some of the changes our industry needs to make and reflecting on the COP debate on the AECOM BlogJoin the discussion on social media by following us on Twitter and LinkedIn. Find more information in our special COP26 edition of our “Future of Infrastructure” report:

For over two centuries, Manchester has been a driver of economic wealth, innovation and physical growth. Once the center of industrial revolution, it is not surprising that the city wants to be at the forefront of efforts to mitigate the environmental consequences.

Mayor Andy Burnham has big ambitions for the city region, setting a 2038 target for achieving net zero-carbon – 12 years ahead of the national target. The government’s commitment to support a so-called London-style transport system with equitable pricing and flexibility is welcome and will help the city region achieve its joint objectives of economic prosperity and achieving carbon reduction – but there is more work to do.

On the second day of COP26, AECOM’s Greater Manchester team hosted a breakfast with influential leaders in the region whose expertise spans planning, policy transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment to discuss our ambitions and actions for the future of the planet. With guests from local and regional authorities – Greater Manchester boroughs, the Mayoral combined authority – as well as transport authorities Network Rail and Transport for Greater Manchester, and Homes England, a public body that funds affordable housing, we discussed the anticipated outcomes from COP26 and how they might impact future actions. There was a clear consensus that a truly sustainable future will demand collaboration and innovation – and robust infrastructure.

Discussions began around the sustainably sourced breakfast. Not just a low-carbon, no-meat option, but getting it ethically sourced too is the sort of challenge we need to tackle head on and every day.

From there we got into meatier topics, from the importance of improving resilience to decarbonizing the public estate and ensuring equitable access to transport. To achieve the 2038 goal, urgent actions are underway in many areas, from air quality to decarbonization, and transformative change in public transport and active travel. Action on all of these fronts is complex and multifaceted – and urgent.

We talked about some of the region’s most forward-looking projects, from the Mayoral Development Corporation’s  ‘newest coolest greenest’ ambitions in Stockport, to Network Rail’s commitment to setting ambitious carbon targets for station redevelopment. We also discussed some of the alternative energy source challenges needed to support sustainable growth.

On the innovation and creative front, we looked at Salford University’s much awaited Energy House 2, which is almost ready for business.  A world first, the building’s live laboratory allows full environmental testing of house types pre-occupation, which mitigates risks in design pre-construction.

We also discussed some of our own commitments, as outlined in our Sustainable Legacies strategy. Lucy Bradbury, a sustainability manager who has been named a Top 10 Inspirational Leader by the British LGBT Awards, spoke about our global business commitment to reach science based net zero by 2030, as well as reducing carbon from our major projects by 50 percent. This includes this year’s launch and adoption of our ScopeX process, which reduces carbon through design and will be shared with clients across all major project work.

“It’s really important with the ESG [environment, social and governance] agenda to be transparent, ambitious and scientific with your own commitments, which is why we have committed to operational net zero in 2021, science based net zero 2030, as well as a 50 percent reduction in carbon on our major projects through ScopeX,” – Lucy Bradbury

Originally published Nov 3, 2021

Author: Stephen Gleave