NEWS / ACE News / What sustainability means: Zero emissions day

ACE News

21 SEP 2022


Two emerging professionals explore what sustainability means for them on Zero Emissions Day

To coincide with Zero Emissions Day (Wednesday 21 September), Thomas Worthignton, principal sustainability and carbon consultant at Atkins and Michael Pantling-Skeet corporate environment manager at Equans UK & Ireland, and previously at ACE member Ramboll, explore what sustainability means to them.

This piece forms part of a series, what sustainability means, which brings together two of ACE’s Emerging Professionals to explore what how sustainability impacts their own lives and day-to-day work.

“The conversation has developed from simply thinking about net zero, to going beyond”

As a principal sustainability and carbon consultant working within infrastructure, my job couldn’t be more related to sustainability and zero emissions! My projects typically revolve around net zero strategy and decarbonisation roadmaps for major infrastructure clients within the private and public sector – I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of learning how an organisation operates to understand drivers to impact their emissions going forward and collaboratively plot an achievable route to net zero.

In the time that I’ve worked within the industry, it is interesting to see how the conversation has developed from simply thinking about net zero, to now going beyond net zero and considering holistic sustainability to include social value, air/water quality, noise, climate adaptation, and more, alongside carbon. Not only is this best practice, but for a truly sustainable future, this really is the only way forward.

I’ve found that focusing on holistic sustainability is a far more engaging way to involve a variety of stakeholders as sustainability issues inherently resonate differently with people – whether they be for social, economic or environmental reasons. Furthermore, people will begin to see more value in net zero when the wider sustainability co-benefits support building up a more desirable business case.

Thomas Worthington (Atkins)

“Finally we have realised how quickly time is running out”

Previously working as a consultant in sustainability and carbon, I worked with a range of private and public sector clients supporting them on their decarbonisation journeys.

Humanity has known about the global warming effect of our GHG emissions for a long time now, and media spotlight on the issue has ebbed and flowed over the last 20 years. However, there now seems to be an unstoppable momentum behind the decarbonisation agenda, as finally we realised how quickly time was running out. Stark warnings in IPCC reports and international crises are bringing into sharp focus why now is the time to act.

The clients I worked with are seeing their customers, investors and even their own staff increasingly want to see quicker action on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

I helped these clients establish their GHG emissions inventories, set reduction targets and put in place carbon reduction plans.

Some clients are measuring their emissions for the first time and need our help identifying sources, collecting appropriate data and building up a complete picture of their emissions. It’s really satisfying to help these clients understand the contribution their operations are making to climate change and then identify the actions they need to take. One organisation or one project at a time, we are helping to support the transition to a net zero economy. 

On Zero Emissions Day it’s important to take stock of how each of us has a role to play. That can be taking action in our personal lives such as eating a lower carbon diet or taking less flights. It can also importantly be taking action in our professional lives, challenging the design brief, being an advocate for innovative low carbon approaches and supporting our clients to decarbonise further and faster.

Michael Pantling-Skeet (Equans UK & Ireland, previously Ramboll)

Read more from the What Sustainability Means series. Find out more about ACE's Emerging Professionals.