The Big Question: What will the coronavirus pandemic mean for net zero?

The UK’s COVID-19 lockdown has dramatically changed the way society uses our infrastructure systems with empty roads, quiet airports and cleaner air, just some of the consequences.

But what does this mean for the ongoing challenge of decarbonisation and achieving net zero emissions by 2050?

Will the coronavirus pandemic lead to permanent change in the way we use transport and infrastructure? Will it take us in a new direction, more compatible with net zero? Or given the devastating impact on business, industry and jobs, will decarbonisation have to take a back seat as we rebuild our economy?

Paul Sheffield, ICE president joined a diverse panel of speakers, representing different interests in the debate, including local government, industry and academia.

In a ‘Question Time-style’ format, the panel answered questions on net zero, infrastructure decarbonisation and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The online debate was organised by ICE South West as part of the president’s ‘virtual visit’ to the region.

Peter Kydd, Chair of the South West Infrastructure Partnership (SWIP), hosted the discussion.

The panel included:

  • Paul Sheffield, ICE president
  • Paula Hewitt, Lead Director for Economic and Community Infrastructure & Director of Commissioning, Somerset County Council
  • Katy Toms, Senior Engineer, WSP and ICE South West Regional Chair
  • Professor Colin Taylor, University of Bristol and member of South West Infrastructure Partnership (SWIP).

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