In the first publication of its kind in Scotland, the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland (ICS) this week presented its 30 year infrastructure strategy, premised on a net zero carbon economy.
With the ICS acknowledging that the scale of change required will affect almost every aspect of daily lives, it also notes that the vision of an inclusive net zero carbon economy will require difficult choices to be made and trade-offs to be addressed.
It is inevitable those changes and choices will go far beyond infrastructure. Infrastructure may be a key enabler of wider change, but it is no coincidence that the first recommendation of the report focuses on leadership:
To provide leadership and demonstrate intent, the Scottish Government should prioritise all new infrastructure investment decisions based on their contribution to the delivery of an inclusive net zero carbon economy.
Essential that may be, but where does the private sector feature in that call for leadership?
The ICS report estimates that of the current 2.5 million homes in Scotland, 80% will still be in use in 2050. Add to that 75% of the current housing stock having been built before 1982, with 20% being built before 1920 (i.e. at least 100 years old) and the magnitude of the challenge ahead becomes clear.
Later this week, Circular North-East will host an event in Aberdeen launching a free service designed to support the construction sector. It will be interesting to hear how the ICS recommendations are received from the perspective of the private sector. Meantime, with this first report focusing on the what and why, we may have to wait until the next stage — the what — to see where the private sector can influence and lead the change.
The global focus on climate change, together with the Scottish Government’s own ambitious Net Zero Carbon target by 2045, have profoundly influenced the work of the ICS in the development of this 30-year strategy.