A call to arms on zero emission construction

JCB’s Chief Innovation & Growth Officer Tim Burnhope issues a rallying cry for a unified drive to reduce emissions.

Having led JCB for 45 years, our Chairman Lord Bamford knows a thing or two about innovation and constant change. And there is one particular change he is now fixated on – accelerating on the road to zero carbon.

As a business, JCB is absolutely focused on the future and overcoming the emissions challenges we all face. In this age of Covid-19 we are undoubtedly living through one of humanity’s toughest modern-day challenges but it has brought about a true spirit of unity and collaboration as everyone has risen to that challenge together.

The world acknowledged there was a crisis, recognised the need to fix it and is uniting in the face of a common problem. Has everything been perfect? Of course not. But it has been a period of constant learning and development which is typical when faced with something completely new.

Collaboration is key

Now we face another of humanity’s greatest challenges – climate change and rising global temperatures. Ignored and the consequences will be catastrophic. We need to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, or we will be in the midst of another crisis.

We can’t wait and do nothing, we have to start right now.

No individual manufacturer, organisation or industry can solve this carbon problem single-handedly. But construction as a whole can unquestionably play its part. It will rely on total buy-in from across the sector.

  • We need local governments to demand clean, zero-carbon construction.
  • We need customers to demand zero carbon solutions and accept that they may be a little more expensive in the short term.
  • We need rental companies to become pioneers encouraging customers to trial and understand the technology.
  • We need operators to embrace electric products, be ambassadors for them, and tell us how to make them even better.
  • We need infrastructure and charging points, sooner and in greater volumes than current provisions enable.
  • We need hydrogen producers to make clean hydrogen from renewables and we all need to embrace the possibilities which hydrogen presents.

Leadership and a sense of urgency

Above all – if the above are to come to fruition – we need great leadership. Great leaders change the status quo, embrace problems and deliver solutions. This is today’s problem, not tomorrow’s, so we cannot afford to wait for the next generation of leaders. 

We need those in a position of influence to step up and show great leadership now; that way we will we be able to make an impact on the world before it is too late. They must lead by example and start adopting both reduced and zero-emissions technology today.

JCB’s founder, Joseph Cyril Bamford CBE, was once asked what it took to succeed. His answer was ‘a sense of urgency about getting things done’. You can be the smartest person in the world but without a sense of urgency you won’t achieve anything. 

As an industry we must channel that sense of urgency on this most crucial of challenges. And if we all play our part, together we can make a difference that will change the world for generations to come.

Playing our part

At JCB we have been working really hard over the last 10 years to reduce our own carbon footprint both as a business and through the impact of our products.

We have cut the fuel consumed by our machines by half and produced the cleanest and most fuel-efficient diesel engines ever built. Make no mistake this clean diesel technology represents the most effective path to reducing CO2 in the short to medium term.

We have also developed the world’s first fully electric mini excavator and will shortly deliver many more zero-emissions electric products.

This focus on reducing emissions has also delivered our most recent game-changing innovation – our prototype for the world’s first hydrogen powered excavator.

We need everyone to unite – government, local authorities, manufacturers, contractors, hirers and operators – on this critical mission and commit to accelerating along the road to zero.

Image courtesy of JCB.

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