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Coronavirus prompts a shift to Net Zero carbon projects

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The majority of project professionals say they have increased their focus on Net Zero carbon projects as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Association for Project Management (APM) has found.

A poll of over 860 project practitioners*, undertaken for APM by research company Censuswide, found that 51 per cent of respondents claimed the global pandemic has led to them and their organisation placing ‘slightly greater’ or ‘significantly greater’ focus on Net Zero carbon projects.

Just six per cent said they were placing less focus on Net Zero carbon projects as a result of coronavirus. The remainder said there was no difference to their focus on Net Zero.

The industry sectors that reported the greatest increase in focus on Net Zero were:

  • HR (89 per cent of respondents reported a greater focus on Net-Zero carbon projects)
  • Telecoms (69 per cent)
  • Transport and logistics (69 per cent)

Reducing the environmental impact of projects has long been an aim of those responsible for planning and delivery, but there has been an increased emphasis on making projects carbon neutral – and even carbon negative – since the Government announced in June 2019 a target for Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Debbie Lewis, director of strategic architecture programmes at BT said: “Achieving Net Zero remains high on the agenda for project managers, despite the impact caused by the global pandemic. Climate change will continue to worsen and accelerate, and so it’s vital that it continues to be addressed and tackled. The project profession has a major role to play in helping to achieve a sustainable Net Zero future.”

APM is supporting the project profession to minimise the environmental impact of projects and help them adapt to the future climate. It has itself made a commitment to become a carbon-neutral organisation by 2050, if not sooner, and to take action around the following objectives:

  1. Raising awareness and encourage debate about the consequences of climate change and how individuals and organisations can make a difference now and in the future
  2. Guiding, advocating and promoting the need for investment in climate change adaptation, mitigation and sustainable development by working in collaboration with public bodies, professional bodies and other stakeholders
  3. Encouraging, identifying and celebrating good practice within the project profession that responds to the climate change challenge
  4. Sharing and disseminating knowledge and research to encourage the take up of project innovations which are responsive to climate change and sustainability challenges
  5. Promoting education, training and professional development opportunities to help APM members gain the knowledge and skills to respond effectively to climate change.

David Thomson, head of external affairs at APM, said: “We recognise that climate change is one of the great challenges of this or any generation. This survey demonstrates that the project profession is not being deflected by the current pandemic to postpone action or ignore the coming challenges of climate change and biodiversity. Addressing that will require big changes across all sectors and will be a significant factor in every project professional’s work in the years ahead.

“As the chartered body for the project profession, APM will support its members, partners and the project profession to ensure projects of every size and purpose address and, where possible, minimise their environmental impact and adapt for the future.”

* 866 project professionals in the UK responded to the question ‘How has the coronavirus pandemic affected how much focus you place on Net Zero carbon projects?’


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