Glasgow is hosting the 26th UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). As president, the UK has high aspirations for further international agreement. At the very least, COP26 will highlight the sheer scale of the UK's commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Construction's role in converting the UK to a net zero economy is significant and, across the industry, initiatives are underway to help make that shift (see, for example, the CLC's CO2nstructZero). How we build and adapt our infrastructure will be key. In the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA)'s recent policy statement, Transforming Infrastructure Performance (TIP): Roadmap to 2030 (Roadmap), the government recognises that investment in high-quality, sustainable infrastructure is critical to achieving its net zero target and its aims to "level up" and meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Published alongside the National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline 2021, the statement presents a "vision for innovation and reform in infrastructure delivery" to "transform how the government and industry decide to intervene in the built environment [and] to drive a step change in infrastructure performance".

Launched in 2017, the IPA's performance programme is designed to lead system change in the built environment. The Roadmap builds on the 25 Year Environment Plan and the National Infrastructure Strategy and addresses how societal outcomes can be collectively prioritised using modern digital approaches and technologies and improved delivery models. It calls for resilient, adaptive and sustainable systems for designing, constructing and operating in the built environment to withstand future change.

The industry will need to innovate at every stage of the construction process to find ways to deliver on the UK's "gigantic [net zero] undertaking". As Lord Agnew states succinctly in the Roadmap's foreword: "… The objectives and challenges are clear, and it falls to all of us now to step up and deliver".

This commentary was first published here by Construction Law on 1 November 2021.