Net Zero Week – Temple Update

19.07.2022 4 min read

Net Zero Week 12-15 July 2022, is a UK Government initiative to raise awareness of the challenges we face in tackling the climate emergency. Acting to reduce carbon emissions (and equivalent greenhouse gases), is at the forefront of Temple’s day-to-day operations. However, these national events provide a perfect opportunity to reflect, engage with others and focus our attention.

Since becoming the ‘first major economy in the world to pass laws to end our contribution to climate change’ and committing to being Net Zero by 2050, quite a lot has happened; Cop 26, lots of fine words, a global pandemic, Brexit and recent extreme weather events, to name but a few. Unfortunately, not a lot has happened to reduce carbon emissions, see IPCC Summary for Policymakers and Climate Change Committee.

However, more people than ever understand the challenges we face, and the rapidly spreading recognition of the interconnection between biodiversity and climate change bodes well. The sooner we break down the single-issue approach to dealing with these issues the better.

Looking at the UK’s Ten Point Plan it’s quite startling to see how much of this has already been thrown on the scrap heap or has had no practical investment. The war in Ukraine, the economic downturn, and the associated cost of living crisis are now being cited as reasons to invest in more fossil fuel extraction, rather than the Green Industrial Revolution which had been committed to in the Ten Point Plan.

What’s next on the journey to Net Zero?

As an organisation Temple are committed to becoming zero carbon. However, reaching net zero requires considerable effort across the board to unearth collaborative and innovative solutions, and whilst reaching net zero is a key milestone it is not an end goal in our sustainability journey.

It is an interesting fact that the operational carbon footprint of our organisation is small, but through the delivery of our services to our clients, we have a much greater impact in supporting the UK’s transition to Net Zero.

Temple’s Climate and Carbon team works across sectors to assist projects and organisations in their transition to a sustainable future. Temple has developed a range of expertise in the field, from infrastructure projects to whole life carbon assessments, and carbon accounting and verification. Our Climate and Carbon team led by Dr. Xiangyu Sheng, FRMetS has a considerable track record in the climate sector, both within the UK and internationally. At Temple, we prepare bespoke, proportionate assessments, selecting the appropriate scope and methods for each scheme.

Is there any room for positivity? 

Yes, lots. The Climate and Ecology Bill will have its second reading in the House of Lords in July and if all goes well could be a great step forward.

Interest in renewable energy for households is at record levels, refreshingly people can see what is needed. The only downsides of this are that only those with sufficient incomes can afford to invest and some of the supply chain social and environmental impacts are concerning, to put it mildly.

A high percentage of businesses are committed to reducing or eliminating their greenhouse gas emissions.  With over 5,200 organisations committed to the UNFCC’s global campaign ‘Race to Zero’.

Fundamentally, all the solutions are known. We know what we need to do, and what we need to stop doing. It is not a problem with an inconceivable solution, we just need to take more action and more quickly.

What next?  

All the interested parties need to work more closely together. One of my colleagues recently said, ‘it should be collaboration, not a race’. And that’s a great point, we need more collaboration and less competition.

As sustainability professionals, we have been told we need to be more business-like and commercially aware. But do we really need hundreds of different organisations competing and offering the same products and services or racing to be ‘the best’? How many different solutions for the same thing do we need?

Does every business need to get to Net Zero first?

Why are we trying to beat the competition? It’s not going to be any good for the planet, or us, if we win the race but no one else finishes.

We need to focus on our resilience and how we adapt to climate change. This may sound like an admission of defeat, but we have to face the reality of the situation. Even if we can limit warming to 1.5 degrees (which is increasingly unlikely) the change to the climate will still have significant impacts on the way we live.

We need to continue to join the dots in sustainability. Climate change is not a single issue but is interconnected to all sustainable development. The natural environment is one of the best chances we have of limiting the impacts of climate change, and its enhancement must be a priority.

Don’t wait for the government to lead on this issue, engage with them locally and nationally but recognise their limitations.

Do start talking less and doing more.  Somehow, we need to get everything moving much more quickly.

Key Contacts

Iain Audus Head of Sustainability and SHEQ
Dr Xiangyu Sheng Director - Air Quality, Climate & Carbon