The U.K., which aims to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, will demonstrate how a green infrastructure approach can help address climate change during its inaugural U.K. Green Infrastructure Week. The first annual awareness campaign, which will feature more than 20 free webinars hosted by sustainability experts across multiple sectors, will take place April 25 – 29, 2022.
Although Green Infrastructure Week presentations will focus mainly on applications in the U.K., the concepts and case studies to be discussed can — and must — be applied worldwide, described Shawn Coles, the event’s founder and managing director.
“Getting to net zero [emissions] here in the U.K., and across the globe, won’t happen without the right foundations,” Coles said. “The green infrastructure ecosystem needs to come together to explore strategies as one cohesive community. Green Infrastructure Week offers a vital forum for exchanging ideas and learning from one another to get us onto a clearer and cleaner pathway to net zero.”
Broadening Green Infrastructure Horizons
In 2020, the U.K. government released its Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, a policy allocating more than £12 billion ($16 billion USD) in public funds to subsidize more than 250,000 jobs in sustainable industry. The 10 priorities specified in the policy, which range from promoting offshore wind energy to protecting watersheds and other natural environments, will act as a roadmap for Green Infrastructure Week presentations.
Each day will begin with a live, keynote webcast focusing on at least one aspect of the Ten Point Plan, each hosted by a U.K.-based organization leading innovation in their respective fields. Successive webcasts offer a deep dive on sub-topics within each point, outlining technical and financial needs to achieve the goals of the Ten Point Plan while also showcasing the latest practices and technology that are already moving the needle toward net zero in the U.K. The event is sponsored by multinational engineering firm AECOM (Dallas, Texas) and supported by dozens of nonprofit groups, think tanks, and policymakers.
Although pre-registration is required for each webinar, all are freely accessible to viewers around the world. Visit the U.K. Green Infrastructure Week website for specific webinar topics, among which will include:
- Maximizing U.K. bioenergy generation rates, hosted by the Energy & Bioproducts Research Institute at Aston University (Birmingham, England);
- Infrastructure requirements to support commercial electric vehicle fleets, hosted by the Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce (London);
- Finance and investment strategies to support green technologies, hosted by Innovate UK KTN (London); and
- Building emissions-free roads, hosted by the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (London).
A Global Push Toward Net Zero
The U.K. Climate Change Committee estimates that meeting its net zero goals will require as much as £1.4 trillion ($1.8 trillion USD) in total investments by the government, private sector, and taxpayers over the next 30 years. Although the commitment is ambitious — equivalent to almost half of the 2021 U.K. gross domestic product — it is only one example of similar efforts to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by governments around the world.
More than 190 countries have signed onto the 2015 Paris Climate Accords, a set of legally binding measures to keep Earth’s average temperature from rising beyond 2°C (3.6°F) by the end of the century, in large part by eliminating greenhouse gas emissions. Combined, emissions from signing countries account for at least 55% of the worldwide total.
The 27 European Union member states committed to work toward a net-zero economy in 2018, with specific targets set by each country. Japan, South Korea, Canada, New Zealand, and others have made similarly binding commitments. Policy statements now exist in more than 130 countries, according to the United Nations, that set targets for net zero and a pathway toward achieving them. Although the U.S. and China — the world’s two largest emitters who together contribute approximately 40% of all greenhouse gases — have set net-zero targets, these agreements are not currently legally binding.
U.K. Member of Parliament Greg Clark described that achieving these goals will require governments to operationalize the most up-to-date information on sustainable approaches to development, including green infrastructure.
“I am delighted to see initiatives like Green Infrastructure Week championing the need for further investment in green infrastructure,” Clark said in a statement. “The U.K. is in a prime position to capitalize on the move towards net zero and ensuring we have the right infrastructure in place will be key to achieving this.”
Top image courtesy of Shawn Coles/U.K. Green Infrastructure Week