Real Estate’s Reaction to Latest IPCC ReportOwen Mitchell
On Monday the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) released its latest blockbuster assessment report ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November.
The report detailed the extent of human damage to our planet which has wide-ranging implications for the built environment. Industry leaders labelled the report a “massive wake-up call”, with the built environment directly responsible for over 20% of the UK’s carbon emissions.
In recent years, real estate’s role in climate change has increasingly been in the spotlight, as capital markets, regulators, and tenants begin to reward decarbonisation. Real estate finance organisations are giving preferential capital to projects with better environmental credentials, regulators are placing caps on carbon usage, and tenants are making their own commitments to going carbon neutral. We are the dawn of a new era where a building’s carbon footprint is increasingly scrutinised – but the consensus is that, despite recent improvements to environmental agendas, more needs to be done. The report reinforces the argument that too many commitments are being missed, and that current pledges must be pushed forward to deliver urgent change.
Hosting COP26 in November provides the UK government with an opportunity to demonstrate clear leadership and embed ambitious climate action across its policies, from planning reform to tougher building regulations. The government’s ‘build back better’ initiative has been spoken about extensively, but it is critical the scheme prioritises building energy-efficient homes and retrofitting existing housing stock, whilst supporting offsite manufacturing and heavily investing in green jobs.
The crisis is also a unique opportunity to bring the real estate industry together – the importance of closer collaboration between organisations and individuals has never been more pressing. When analysing the performance of buildings through their life cycle landlords and tenants can work together to understand how a building is being utilised and the knock-on effect this has on energy consumption. Proptech has a key role to play in enabling real-time collaboration between landlords and tenants and we expect accelerated investment in proptech innovation to be a key priority for the government and industry leaders in the months ahead.
It is only through ambitious ingenuity and collaboration that we can ensure the built environment evolves at a quick enough pace to guarantee the future of our planet. Tackling the biggest challenge of our generation will be tough, but it does provide an exciting prospect for the real estate industry to be a leading voice for change.