Balfour lowers sights on carbon emissions in new strategy

Tier one contractor Balfour Beatty has pushed back its target dates for achieving net-zero carbon operations.

The UK’’s biggest contractor has said it now hopes to negate scope 1 and 2 emissions – those coming direct from its activities and indirectly through its power use – by 2045. This is five years later than previously planned.

The company also said its scope 3 emissions, which come from supply chain operations, will not be carbon neutral until 2050 under the latest plan – a full decade after the original target.

Balfour said it was “recognising the scale of the challenge in a carbon intensive industry with its dependence on heavy plant and machinery, concrete and steel”.

The construction giant announced the change as it launched an “evolved” sustainability strategy that includes bringing forward a target to create £3bn of social value. This will now happen by 2025 rather than 2030, it pledged.

Balfour said its six focus areas encompass climate change; nature positivity; resource efficiency; supply chain integrity; community engagement; and employee diversity, equity and inclusion.

The firm added that its Scottish operations remained on track to meet the Scottish Government’s net-zero target by 2045.

Chief executive Leo Quinn said: “As we continue to develop our understanding of the scale of the sustainability challenge and opportunity, we are committed to continually raising the bar to drive progress – for our business, for our industry, for our communities and employees, and, ultimately, for the world we live in.

“Through the actions we take and the transformative projects we deliver over the next decade of infrastructure growth and beyond, Balfour Beatty will continue to play a significant role in the transition to a greener, fairer economy by working with all our stakeholders to make sustainable choices that will help shape a better tomorrow.”

Lord Deben, chairman of sustainability consultancy Sancroft, backed Balfour’s “meaningful programme”.

“Business and industry alike have a significant role to play in helping drive forward sustainability initiatives in our collective journey to net zero,” he said.

“These initiatives must be realistic and based on the science if we are to create a better, cleaner and greener world. It is reassuring to see Balfour Beatty’s meaningful programme for delivering against company commitments and targets, notably in the transparency of its carbon reduction plan.”

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