Highways Sector Council commits to Net Zero Highways  

As the world meets at COP 27 to discuss global climate change the Highways Sector Council (HSC) is today releasing its Net Zero Highways plan, highlighting the progress made by the sector and the ongoing work by various bodies to reduce carbon emissions.

HSC commits to working collaboratively to enable the achievement of:

  • The Climate Change Committee’s balanced pathway to Net Zero
  • The Government’s Net Zero Strategy
  • DfT’s Decarbonising Transport plan

Given the urgency of the Net Zero challenge HSC will initially focus on reducing those Greenhouse Gas-producing activities that contribute the most to the whole life emissions of the highway asset – Road User and Capital Carbon emissions.

Road user emissions – tailpipe emissions from all vehicles

  • Leveraging its members and partners HSC will help share best practice and expertise – for example in EV infrastructure and modal optimisation and will lead industry engagement with DfT.

Capital carbon – embedded emissions from the construction and maintenance of the highway asset, in particular from cement and steel production, and from diesel emissions from plant, equipment and materials transport

  • PAS 2080: Carbon Management in Infrastructure offers a systematic way for managing whole life carbon that HSC believes can be the cornerstone from which the industry can build and accelerate improvement. HSC will leverage its sector wide membership to accelerate the scalable adoption of PAS 2080 as a fundamental enabler to minimising the whole life carbon footprint of highways.

Key next step

A brief has been prepared for a HSC working group to develop practical guidance and resources to help all sector organisations (no matter their size) align their operations and projects to PAS 2080.

Ann Carruthers, Leicestershire County Council’s Director of Environment and Transport said: “The sooner we see an industry wide shift towards whole life carbon reduction, the sooner we can meet our net zero targets, and ensure better business performance, reduced costs, increased competitiveness and innovation. We need to build on what we’ve achieved so far, and make sure our highways are fit for a truly sustainable world.

John Dixon, HSC Member and Jacobs’ Head of Highways said: “PAS 2080 is increasingly being adopted and promoted in the Highways Sector. It is a flexible standard that can be applied to different project types, sizes and stages. If we use it as a means to facilitate consistency and collaboration at pace we stand a better chance of making a difference on time.”

Leon Daniels, Chair of the HSC said: “The Highways Sector Council’s purpose is “to bring together industry and government to transform the highways sector”. This document outlines how we are doing just that and how the sector is coming together to deliver action at unprecedented scale and at pace to meet the challenge of Net Zero.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “It is encouraging to see the Highways Sector Council working to bring together industry and government bodies, aligning with the Government’s commitment to decarbonise the highway network as part of the UK’s net zero target by 2050. We are keen to see how HSC progresses this work for the benefit of the sector throughout the country.”

Anna Delvecchio, Founding Member of the HSC and Mott MacDonald’s Transportation Development Director said: “We are committed to working in the best interests of the whole Highways Sector and in collaboration with Government to transform the sector.”


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