Solutions for a net zero carbon future

With the UK committed to a Clean Growth Strategy and becoming the first major economy to commit to a target of net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, WSP is helping clients across sectors meet the decarbonisation challenge and transition to a zero carbon future.

Globally, the impact of climate change is making decarbonisation more urgent than ever. Cutting CO2 emissions and moving to a zero carbon future simply cannot wait.

The UK government has adopted a net zero target for CO2 emissions by 2050. A bold ambition like this empowers WSP’s engineers, scientists and management consultants to innovate and, in doing so, to break the link between carbon emissions and economic growth.



"With a common goal and a collaborative approach between government and industry, I believe the UK can lead the way towards a net zero carbon economy for the benefit of future generations."

Mark Naysmith

Decarbonisation across sectors

Cutting CO2 emissions by enough to achieve net zero requires action across sectors and across disciplines. We have the technical expertise to do this – plus the know-how to generate buy-in from communities and clients. We are already putting this expertise into action.


Decarbonising transport

Electric transport is a vital part of a net zero future. We are helping cities develop infrastructure for electric vehicles, delivering schemes like HS2 that provide lower-carbon ways to travel, and researching how trains could be fuelled by hydrogen. The WSP team designing HS2’s Curzon Street Station in Birmingham has achieved a 47% reduction in lifetime carbon, which equates to more than 86.5MkgCO2e – equivalent to 18,804 return flights from London to Hong Kong.

Designing low-carbon buildingS

We already design buildings which use heat pumps for heating and cooling, reducing their CO2 emissions by up to 70% in comparison with gas boilers. Mindful of the fact that 80% of the UK’s existing infrastructure will still be here in 2050 and beyond, we place as much importance on retrofitting to reduce CO2 emissions – helping companies like BT and IKEA develop zero-carbon strategies for heating and cooling.

Cutting industry CO2 emissionS

How can we decarbonise energy-intensive industries such as manufacturing, steel, cement and agriculture? What ideas and technologies will be needed to help industrial areas reach net zero. We have been advising the UK government about this challenge for many years and our report formed the basis for the government’s 2050 Industrial Decarbonisation Roadmaps. These identified key technologies for decarbonisation, most notably carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS).

Shaping a zero carbon future

The business and industry sectors are together responsible for around 25% of UK emissions. How can they go beyond the ambitions of the Clean Growth Strategy and achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050? This is a question at the heart of WSP’s Future Ready approach to helping our clients decarbonise their projects and businesses, and to setting our own business on a path to a net zero carbon future.

Delivering net zero CO2 emissions is a core part of our Global and UK Growth Strategies. We know that by collaborating with our clients, and using our future-ready thinking, we can help them decarbonise – and help the country transition to a low-carbon economy.  We do this through strategies that are grounded in practical action and delivery, developing solutions that work as well in the field as they do in the boardroom.

While international and national standards are essential, we think the path to net zero will increasingly be driven locally, where infrastructure, industrial and transport projects are delivered. This is where we believe we have an important role to play in helping the UK to take the lead on decarbonisation, and we are working with cities such as Liverpool to devise low-carbon masterplans.


Engineers, designers and planners are absolutely key to the zero carbon transition. It’s this set who will design the supply of low-carbon power, deliver a vehicle charging network and develop carbon capture and storage technologies.
David Symons Director of Sustainability, WSP UK

What if we can?

While the path to net zero is likely to be driven locally, we look to learn from global best practice. We are working with Sweden – a country that has legislated to become carbon-neutral by 2045 – to find great examples of low-carbon construction and to define what a zero-carbon construction industry looks like. 

At WSP, we have the people and the expertise to meet the challenge of decarbonisation head on, to find new and innovative ways to help clients cut CO2 emissions and lead the UK to net zero. We feel that there is no better way to demonstrate how this is possible than by going carbon neutral ourselves by 2025, check out our latest progress in our 2018 sustainability report

Decarbonisation will be one the largest societal changes in recent times, yet it will also be one of the biggest opportunities for UK businesses. We are here to help you make the most of this opportunity.


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David Symons
Future Ready Global Leader, Director - E&E, UK
United Kingdom
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