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A new paper suggests that the infrastructure industry can play a pivotal role in reducing Australian greenhouse gas emissions.

Infrastructure contributes around 70 per cent of Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Issues Paper: Reshaping Infrastructure for a net zero emissions future

The paper is published in partnership by the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA), ClimateWorks Australia and the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC).

Ainsley Simpson, CEO of ISCA said that infrastructure must respond to and support broader economic and social trends, one of which is decarbonisation of Australia’s economy.

“Most infrastructure built today will still be operating in 2050. By this point, all Australian states and territories are aiming to be at net zero emissions.

“Infrastructure is facing pressure from both the public and private sector to prepare for net zero emissions.

“In addition to state and territory commitments, private investors are increasingly aligning their portfolios with net zero emissions,” she said.

Senior Project Manager (Cities & Policy) at ClimateWorks Australia, Michael Li, said infrastructure influences 15 per cent of Australia’s emissions directly and 55 per cent indirectly.

“Direct emissions occur across the life-cycle including in procurement, construction, operations and decommissioning. But the majority of emissions are associated with the end use of assets and the activities they enable,” Mr Li said.

“For example, providing public transport infrastructure close to population centres can reduce local road transport emissions.

Executive Director of ASBEC, Suzanne Toumbourou, said that preparing infrastructure for a net zero emissions future is a shared responsibility between all stakeholders across the infrastructure lifecycle, including infrastructure advisors, investors, construction companies and operators.

“With billions of dollars in the infrastructure pipeline, and the need to rapidly rebuild infrastructure after this summer’s natural disasters, now is the time for consensus about what role infrastructure can play in achieving a net zero emissions future,” Ms Toumbourou said.

Using the Issues Paper as a starting point, ISCA, ClimateWorks and ASBEC aim to work collaboratively with those responsible for planning, assessing, funding and delivering infrastructure.

“We invite stakeholders from across the infrastructure sector to collaborate and participate in solutions-focused discussions that are essential to reshaping infrastructure for a net zero emissions future,” Ms Simpson said.

Stakeholders who wish to participate in the conversation throughout 2020 and beyond are also invited to reach out directly to ISCA, ClimateWorks and ASBEC for updates.

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