September 30, 2013
The built environment has one of the biggest roles to play in tackling global warming, said the UK Green Building Council following the publication of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report which confirms that there is at least 95 per cent certainty that human activities are its principal cause. The Summary of the Report for Policy Makers; prepared by 259 climate experts from 39 countries, warns atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years, while CO2 concentrations have increased by 40 per cent since pre-industrial times. It advises that containing these changes will require “substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions”.
Commenting on the report Lord Stern, chair of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and author of the Stern Review, a leading study of the economics of global warming said: “Without very strong cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases, we face huge risks from global warming of more than 2°C by the end of this century compared with the period before the Industrial Revolution.
“All governments have already agreed that it would be dangerous to exceed a threshold of global warming by 2°C. Delay is dangerous because greenhouse gases are accumulating in the atmosphere and because we are locking in high-carbon infrastructure and capital.”
He continued: “This report implies that, even if we were to stay at current levels, we would exhaust the emissions budget within 15 to 25 years. And if we continue to increase annual emissions, the budget will be depleted even sooner. That is why I think nations, cities, communities and companies will recognise the importance of these findings and will increase the urgency and scale of the emissions reductions that they are planning to undertake.
He concluded that this latest evidence should provide the impetus for the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Paul King, Chief Executive of UK-GBC, said the report sent: “a clear message to policy makers that now is the time to act. The built environment offers by far the most cost–effective mitigation potential of any sector.
“We must see greater urgency from politicians and the private sector to drive down carbon, and to capitalise on the business opportunities in doing so.”