A new call to action: the FIDIC Charter on Climate Change | White & Case LLP

On November 11, 2021, the International Federation of Consulting Engineers1 (“FIDIC“) launched its first FIDIC Charter on Climate Change (the”Climate change charter“),2 a transformative call to action for the global engineering community to decarbonize in support of the climate change targets agreed at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (“COP26“).3 The Climate Change Charter recognizes the key strategic role that stakeholders in the engineering industry have, both collectively and individually, in ensuring that the world tackles climate change and achieves net zero. by 2050.4

Key provisions of the Climate Change Charter

The Climate Change Charter provides guidance on the commitments and responsibilities that can be undertaken by FIDIC member associations, project teams, companies and individual professional engineers, as well as FIDIC itself,5 and explains how each of the major industry players can address climate change mitigation, adaptation and the resilience of the built environment. Through the Climate Change Charter, FIDIC specifically seeks to:

(1) reduce emissions from member operations across the industry;

(2) reduce integrated and operational carbon emissions in construction and infrastructure projects on which members consult, design and execute; and

(3) support adaptation to climate change through mitigation and the design of disaster or event resilience infrastructure.6

FIDIC states that this can be achieved by FIDIC itself and the various stakeholders:

(4) through influence and advocacy, including, among others, continuing to advocate for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals7 and climate change mitigation and encourage and support consulting engineers to adopt best practices;8

(5) by addressing buildings, infrastructure and industrial facilities, in particular by instructing the sustainable development committee of FIDIC to develop guidelines and resources dedicated to climate action and carbon reduction for governments, customers and financial institutions;9 and

(6) through operations, facilities and activities, including:ten work towards a zero / 1.5 degree centigrade net warming trajectory; (b) developing a climate action plan to cover clean energy and decarbonisation across all of its operations, facilities and activities; and (c) annual reports on the implementation of a climate action plan, including details on emission reductions from 2023.11

In addition, the Climate Change Charter includes proposals for specific actions and objectives specific to each of the main stakeholder groups, such as FIDIC member associations, project teams and programs, companies and organizations. individual professional engineers.

Comment

The United Nations Office for Project Services (“UNOP“) estimates that the infrastructure sector is responsible for 79% of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, these emissions coming from the different stages of the life cycle of a project.12 Emissions control will depend on in-depth industry knowledge of the systems to be provided and the context in which they will operate. The role of FIDIC as a global representative body, representing more than one million engineering professionals and 40,000 companies worldwide,13 places FIDIC in a unique position to influence key stakeholders in the engineering industry to consciously and collectively use their knowledge and expertise to mitigate and eliminate their impact on the planet.

What the Climate Change Charter seeks to achieve is bold and ambitious and the alignment of climate change commitments and targets for the global engineering industry is a welcome development. The Climate Change Charter takes a segmented approach and rightly recognizes that each of the major industry stakeholders has a different role to play in meeting climate change commitments. For example, engineering and consulting companies are encouraged to develop and promulgate corporate policies and goals that promote a responsible approach to the climate for businesses and projects,14 while individual professional engineers are encouraged to audit personal behaviors and climate change thinking and work to integrate climate considerations into project processes, services and solutions.15 In practice, however, it is nonetheless expected that there may be some disparity within the industry as to how the Climate Change Charter will be assessed and interpreted by different industry stakeholders and how the Climate Change Charter will be received in different cultures. contexts around the world.

1 The International Federation of Consulting Engineers.
2 FIDIC press release, November 10, 2021, “Transformational climate change charter launched for the global infrastructure sector”, https://fidic.org/node/34378.
3 The United Nations Climate Change Conference 2021, the objectives of COP26, https://ukcop26.org/cop26-goals/.
4 FIDIC press release, November 10, 2021, “Transformational Charter on Climate Change launched for the global infrastructure sector”, https://fidic.org/node/34378.
5 Charter on Climate Change, p. ten.
6 Charter on climate change, point 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3, p. 7.
7 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Sustainable Development, “The 17 Goals” https://sdgs.un.org/goals.
8 Charter on Climate Change, p. 11.
9 Charter on Climate Change, p. 12.
10 The Greenhouse Gas Protocol establishes comprehensive and standardized global frameworks for measuring and managing greenhouse gas emissions from private and public sector operations, value chains and mitigation actions. https://ghgprotocol.org/about-us.
11 In accordance with the scientific approach of FIDIC and aspiring to the international standard ISO 14064-1, second edition 2018, “Greenhouse gases”, https://www.sis.se/api/document/preview/80008815/. See Climate Change Charter, p. 13.
12 Report of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOP) “Infrastructure for Climate Action” (2021), p. 12.
13 FIDIC website, “About us” https://fidic.org/about-us.
14 Charter on Climate Change, pp. 16 and 17.
15 Charter on Climate Change, p. 18.

Demi Adeyemi (White & Case, Trainee Solicitor, London) contributed to the development of this publication.

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