The UN Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) meets in San Francisco, California from 12-14 September 2018, and in addition to the physical meeting, actors around the world are invited to participate by demonstrating the depth and range of climate action in their sectors and geographies to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
This raises the question what have we done in the (business, regional, national and global) built environment to contribute to the Paris Change Agreement. The ILFI through Living Building Challenge is one of the few building standards that seek to meet the Paris Agreement, and One Planet Living through its alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Yet we no longer have the luxury of only less bad is not good enough and as is becoming increasingly obvious, meeting the Paris targets may not be enough, and ‘good’ is now looking way beyond the 1.5 DegC aspirational targets.
The UK Construction 2025 Vision, launched in 2013, set a target of 50% reductions in built environment carbon emissions by 2025. Indications are that we are far from achieving this. (A 2015 BRE analysis showed that BREEAM assessed buildings achieve an average 22% reduction in CO2 emissions). We only have a handful of projects setting real carbon reduction targets. Yet we know we will have to improve on the 50% and get to 80 percent by 2033 if we are to meet the 1.5 degree target .
Better technology and design alone will not get us there without a shift towards a worldview thinking, that embraces regenerative system approaches, and sees the built environment within the context of wider ecological systems.
The California Summit is focused on taking ambition to the next level through five key issue areas: healthy energy systems, inclusive economic growth, sustainable communities, land and ocean stewardship and transformative climate investments.
All of the five key issues areas are built environment related, with the sector being a contributor to the problem, but can also deliver a significant solution, particular so on the sustainable communities challenge:
The sustainable communities challenge is an effort led by cities to create buildings, communities and infrastructure that are clean, healthy, and livable. Cities can encourage community driven climate projects, a transition to net zero carbon buildings through the World Green Buildings Council and a progression towards zero waste.
- Action you can take: Transform communities through innovation around net zero emissions buildings, fossil fuel free streets, and waste reduction. Work with the C40 Cities coalition of mayors to reach these goals.
Healthy energy systems can prevent dangerous effects from climate change. They can be achieved through a shift toward clean and equitable energy in addition to building a decarbonized energy and transportation system aligned with scientifically founded action requirements.
- Action you can take: Accelerate the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) and make electric transport the new normal by 2030 by joining the EV100 initiative.
Inclusive economic growth requires climate leadership in business, clean technology, and an energy transition that fosters good jobs while spurring inclusive global economic development.
- Action you can take: Set science based climate and sustainability targets and build climate resilient supply chains and communities.
Land and ocean stewardship focuses on the role that forests, food, lands and other ecosystems must play in mitigating climate change and making our world more resilient, while also ensuring sufficient food supplies for a growing population. This climate action pathway requires support of sustainable food systems, conservation of resilient landscapes that deliver climate solutions, technical and financial support for new stewardship projects, and transparency, engagement, and investment from industry actors.
- Action you can take: Implementing climate friendly land use, conservation, and agriculture policies. The 30X30 Forests, Food and Land Challenge’s goals is to achieve 30% of climate solutions by 2030 through improved agricultural and land use practices.
Transformative climate investments will require the mobilization of investment on an unprecedented scale to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Investors, considering their financial duties to clients and beneficiaries, are encouraged to act in one or more of the following four areas: Investment, corporate engagement, investor disclosure, and policy advocacy.
- Action you can take: Commit to the use of green bonds for infrastructure investment and ask investors to invest in them. The Green Bond Pledge coordinated in part by Ceres is an initiative you can join.
Lastly, if you wish to inspire others who may wish to participate in the Global Climate Action Summit challenges, you can:
- Encourage your firm or community to find ways to take part in one of the five key climate action challenges.
- Share this video with your colleagues and business network so that they can also join the movement in raising global climate ambition.
- Follow the action on social media through the UNFCCC and the Global Climate Action Summit accounts:
- Website UN Climate Change and Global Climate Action Summit
- UN Climate Change on Twitter: English @UNFCCC | Spanish: @CMNUCC
- GCAS Twitter: @GCAS2018
- Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa, on Twitter: @ PEspinosaC
- UN Climate Change on LinkedIn: UNFCCC
- UN Climate Change on Facebook: facebook.com/UNclimatechange
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