Australia’s New Net Zero Plan for Infrastructure
Infrastructure Net Zero brings government and industry together to decarbonize infrastructure.
Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia. Credit: Matt Hardy, Pexels
Australia has announced a new plan to reduce the carbon footprint of its infrastructure sector, which accounts for about 70% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
In August 2023, seven private sector entities and three federal agencies joined forces to create Infrastructure Net Zero (InfraNZ), a groundbreaking public-private partnership that aims to decarbonize Australia’s infrastructure.
The Australian government has committed to developing a plan for achieving net zero by 2050. With infrastructure responbsible for around 70% of Australia’s national emissions, it is clear that addressing the carbon footprint of infrastructure is integral to Australia meeting its net zero goal.
Infrastructure is responsible for approximately 70% of Australia’s carbon emissions
15% of Australia’s total GHG emissions (about 87 million tonnes of CO2 per year) arises directly from the construction and operation of infrastructure.
Over half of the emissions from a typical infrastructure project come from the embodied emissions in concrete, asphalt, and steel.
Emission sources of a typical infrastructure project in Australia. Source: Infrastructure Sustainability Council
Five Pillars of Net-zero Infrastructure
InfraNZ has developed a roadmap to decarbonize the infrastructure sector, which includes the following five key pillars:
1. Roadmap to Net Zero: InfraNZ will lead the development of a national plan to decarbonize infrastructure, creating pathways for critical assets that maximize wider socioeconomic benefits.
2. Policy development: InfraNZ will engage with governments to promote policies, investments, and incentives at the state and federal levels to support the transition to renewable energy, sustainable materials, and advanced manufacturing.
3. Procurement: Collaborate with industry to develop governance structures, processes, and approaches for reducing emissions transparently and through sound decision-making.
4.Skills-building: Identify core skills gaps, provide access to knowledge, and build capability.
5. Technology: Trial, adopt, and promote technology solutions that optimize a holistic approach to an asset’s lifecycle, from design to end of life.
Partners in Net-zero Infrastructure
The Australian government has invested $20 million in InfraNZ, demonstrating its commitment to supporting this work.
Infrastructure Net Zero is a collaboration of existing organizations committed to collaborating effectively to drive lasting policy change and innovation across the industry.
Its Steering Committee comprises the founding stakeholders:
- Australian Infrastructure Finance
- Facility for the Future
- Infrastructure Australia
- National Transport Commission
- Roads Australia
- Australian Rail Association
- Australian Urban Utilities
- Australian Water Association
- Property Council of Australia
The Benefits of Government and Industry Collaboration
“The path to net zero is a collaborative one and we are already on our way” — Jon Davies, Australian Constructors Association
It is hoped that by uniting government and industry, InfraNZ is expected to deliver some core economic as well as environmental benefits, including:
- Drive high-priority initiatives that bring lasting policy changes and foster innovation in the infrastructure sector.
- Create jobs and stimulate economic growth in the growing low-carbon economy.
- Strengthene Australia’s position as a sustainability leader.
InfraNZ is a testament to the power of collaboration in addressing the climate crisis. It sets a blueprint for how other governments can work with industry to address the net zero challenge.
Jon Davies, CEO of the Australian Constructors Association, said the Infrastructure Net Zero initiative underscores the close collaboration between government and industry in creating a clear path for the sector to reach net zero emissions.
“We are entering a time where we need everything all at once – net zero, decarbonisation, sustainability – and navigating the policy landscape is challenging,” said Mr Davies.
“This initiative will help to join the dots. If we are to reach our goal, we need to start doing things differently. The path to net zero is a collaborative one and we are already on our way.”
Read more about InfraNZ: infrastructurenetzero.org
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