Taylor Wimpey publishes climate transition plan, pledges science-based net-zero by 2045
Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey has published its first net-zero transition plan and confirmed that it is seeking to have its 2045 net-zero target verified by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).
Under the SBTi’s net-zero standard, businesses must commit to reducing absolute emissions across all scopes by at least 90% by 2050 at the latest. Taylor Wimpey’s new transition plan includes this headline goal for 2045 plus several other interim targets, including net-zero operational emissions by 2035.
It also confirms the financials of the transition. It states that the business expects measures to reduce operational (Scope 1) and power-related (Scope 2) emissions to result in only a small net cost, with cost efficiencies from reduced energy use “largely offsetting required expenditure”.
Reducing Scope 3 (indirect) emissions will prove more costly but the report states that the likely range is “uncertain”, as is the way in which costs will be shared with the supply chain. Scope 3 emissions account for 99% of Taylor Wimpey’s absolute emissions footprint, with the bulk sitting in purchased goods and services.
The new transition plan breaks down the company’s journey to net-zero into four stages, the first one covering the years from 2019 to 2025. Priorities here include improving the energy efficiency of all homes, in preparation for the Future Homes Standard due to enter into force in 2025; procuring renewable electricity for new sites; researching alternatives to diesel generators and planning to decarbonise the supply chains of key materials.
By 2026, the plan states, Taylor Wimpey will be procuring 100% renewable electricity for its own operations plus all new and existing sites. It will also be well into the process of phasing out diesel generators.
Also included in stage two, which covers the years from 2026 to 2030, are plans to increase the use of timber frames to decrease the embodied carbon from new build homes, and to pilot new low-carbon materials.
Materials contributing most significantly to Taylor Wimpey’s emissions footprint are concrete, asphalt, bricks and steel. The business is exploring innovations including concrete free from Portland cement; blocks with a higher air content; concrete made using captured carbon; asphalt that can be applied at lower temperatures and bricks which do not need to be kiln-baked.
Taylor Wimpey states that it is already working with key material suppliers and large groundwork contractors to explore both these material innovations and more efficient options for carrying out processes. It states that this will be extended to other material suppliers, including smaller firms, in the future.
In the 2030s and 2040s, the plan states, Taylor Wimpey will start accelerating research into carbon capture and storage solutions. It believes it is highly likely that removals will need to be used to neutralise operational emissions in 2035 and beyond, and from 2045 for Scope 3 emissions.
“We will be exploring a range of approaches for neutralising emissions including nature-based solutions (such as planting forests), engineered solutions (such as net positive CO2 cured concrete) and hybrid solutions (such as biochar),” the plan states. “We will be assessing these based on their environmental merits and factors such as supply and demand, pricing and technological readiness.”
Some of Taylor Wimpey’s emissions could be ‘inset’, the report stipulates – neutralised due to removals relating from nature-based solutions at large development site and surplus land.
The UK Government’s guidance on transition planning was updated earlier this year to state that transition plans should include information on nature.
Taylor Wimpey has stated that it will update the transition plan at least every three years, in line with current advice from the UK Government. Producing transition plans is not yet mandatory in the UK, but soon will be for large businesses in some of the highest-emitting sector. The Transition Plan Taskforce has proposed that companies should have to publish one transition plan this year, then an update in 2026. In 2024 and 2025, information material to the plan should be included in financial reporting.
Net-zero infrastructure investment advice
In other news relating to the net-zero transition in the built environment, the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) has this week released new guidance to help investors select infrastructure firms with credible net-zero plans and engage with existing companies and projects in their portfolios.
The guidance recommends that investors, when selecting new investments, should look for firms and projects with net-zero targets that cover all emissions scopes and include interim targets in line with climate science. Interim targets for 2030 are recommended.
For existing investments, it recommends that investors update their plans with infrastructure-sector-specific net-zero targets within 18 months.
The guidance emphasises how progress is just as important as target setting. It includes information on how investors can engage with companies to get current and forecast, asset-specific emissions performance data.
The IIGCC has also this week confirmed the second phase of its workstream on measuring and reducing climate-related risks to the infrastructure sector, including physical risk to assets, higher project capital hosts, supply chain disruption and valuation risk due to nearby physical risk.
“That a number of investors who have set net zero targets have decided to follow the guidance is a positive sign and we look forward to seeing many more taking similar decisions,” said the IIGCC’s chief executive Stephanie Pfeifer.
“We know that decarbonising infrastructure globally will be vital if we are to deliver net zero and that within this context investors have a pivotal role to play, not least owing to the level of investment held in the asset class.
“In addition to the pursuit of net zero, due to its unique characteristics infrastructure is arguably the most important asset class to build resilience into at the same time. Ultimately, it’s critical that our infrastructure, including roads, energy systems and cities, not only support a net zero transition but are also resilient to floods, heat and other physical impacts of climate change that are going to increase.”