John Laing Group launches new sustainability strategy including stronger biodiversity risk assessments

Pictured: Finley Solar Farm, Australia. Image: John Laing Group

The company, which was purchased by KKR & Co in a £2bn deal in 2021, has invested in more than 150 major infrastructure projects around the world. These range from Millenium Stadium in Cardiff, to Australia’s North East Link motorway scheme, to renewable energy generation assets in Germany and the US.

This week, John Laing has posted a sweeping update to its sustainability strategy in its latest annual sustainability report.

Six pillars make up the strategy: climate, resource use, biodiversity, communities, responsible business and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

Under the climate pillar, the business has built upon a 2050 net-zero goal with interim goals to cut financed emissions. By 2030, 70% of assets under management by value will need to either align with net-zero by 2050 on a 1.5C-based trajectory or be close to completing alignment.

John Laing Group’s executive officer Andrew Truscott has stated that “if an asset has no clear path to decarbonisation, we will not invest”. Existing assets are also being asked to draw up net-zero transition plans.

On climate mitigation, Truscott has remarked on a “step-change” in the measurement of the company’s emissions footprint, 99% of which lies in the projects it finances.

Project teams accounting for 90% of John Laing’s portfolio by value are now measuring Scope 1 (direct) and 2 (power-related) emissions, while also estimating Scope 3 (indirect) emissions using factors such as spend and material type. Measuring these emissions baselines will be crucial to tracking net-zero alignment.

Last year, only 60% of the portfolio measured Scopes 1 and 2 and only 40% calculated scope 3.

Beyond emissions

Climate risk assessments are another key part of John Laing’s updated climate strategy. It is building on the addition of climate risks to its risk register and risk committee agendas by completing analysis and reporting in line with the Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures’ (TCFD) framework, including scenario analysis.

This requires the forecasting of risk in a range of different global warming scenarios.

Portfolio projects are now to be asked to measure their own climate risks in line with the TCFD.

Linked to the ‘climate’ pillar of the new strategy is a refreshed strategic approach to biodiversity. One-third of John Laing’s projects are in places classed as ‘biodiversity-sensitive’.

A new screening criteria will ensure the business avoids projects which are environmentally harmful where no meaningful mitigation is possible.

All assets are required to produce a biodiversity strategy and plans are in the works to push projects for more detailed and ambitious strategies.

Additionally included in the report is a statement of intention to assist Governments in the delivery of their obligations under the UN biodiversity treaty, including targets to reduce pesticide use, tackle invasive species and protect and conserve 30% of area size for nature. The treaty was ratified late last year and has been signed by more than 190 nations. Its headline aim is to halt and end nature destruction and degradation this decade.

Related article: Finance giants are underestimating nature-related risks, CDP warns

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