Data and standards
Data and analytics underlie all the policy initiatives that we might choose to develop to meet net zero targets, comments Langdon. The problem for policymakers is that the available data is held in different and incompatible databases, making it difficult to ascertain which actions provide the most benefit for the least cost, he says. “Creating a data and analytics platform across the city or region is a critically important factor.”
Another issue is the lack of a commonly agreed definition for net zero. The terms net zero and carbon neutral are often used interchangeably, even though they technically mean different things and represent different levels of ambition, says Emma.
The Carbon Trust uses a working definition of net zero for cities aligned to the Science Based Targets initiative. This adheres to a 1.5-degree carbon reduction trajectory, defines the emission sources covered, and aligns to the GHG Protocol for cities, a global protocol for how to assess emissions for a city or a region.
Furthermore, the Trust stipulates that remaining hard to decarbonise emissions can only be offset through greenhouse gas removals and not avoided emissions. This helps to ensure that the action plans developed are genuinely ambitious and represent the leading edge in terms of achieving net zero.
When it comes to consistency in reporting carbon emissions, this is being pioneered through ICMS 3 , (International Cost Management Standard, third edition), a coalition of some 50 organisations, explains Ken Creighton, Director of Thought Leadership and Public Affairs, RICS. “ICMS 3 brings much needed transparency and cross-border comparability of embodied and operational carbon across the life cycle of construction projects” he explains.
 A copy of the roadmap can be downloaded from The Net Zero City Book - Roadmap
 The FEW nexus is relatively new area of scientific thought that looks at the interrelationship between these three fundamentals.
 Further information about ICMS3 can be found here: https://www.rics.org/uk/upholding-professional-standards/sector-standards/construction/icms3/