Climate Change: how can the property industry make a difference?

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Ten days of protests, blockades and disruption across London came to a conclusion at the end of last week as Extinction Rebellion ended its action in the capital. Hundreds of activists marked the end of the campaign (or pause as many were keen to clarify) in Hyde Park at the end of last week.

More than 1000 people have been arrested during the action and the activists have blocked roads, camped on bridges, glued themselves to trains and on the final day, the London Stock Exchange.

Whether you agree with their methods or not, they have succeeded in securing national attention and engaging with senior politicians, high profile celebrities and possibly the most well-known girl in the world right now – Greta Thunberg the 16-year-old climate change activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, who took a train from Stockholm (she has quit flying as part of her campaign) to visit the protests and subsequently address parliament on their failures to act on climate change.

Their goal and arguments are clear – we need to act now, with unprecedented changes to the way we live in order to prevent irreversible damage to our planet.

The property industry is not by far the main contributor to the carbon emissions in the UK and globally, with agriculture, energy and transportation producing the most CO2. However, as an influential and powerful part of the UK economy, we can all make a difference.

Sustainability and efficient processes are a priority and we have seen this become more prevalent as end users demand it. There is also now more of a business case for looking for more sustainable construction methods. For example, the renewable industry is growing and is rapidly offering cheaper energy sources with solar and wind power. Meanwhile, the zero carbon goals of major cities like Manchester and London is driving property companies to offset their carbon footprints with a range of initiatives while building the infrastructure we need. Electric vehicles are also not far off as the government work to ban diesel and petrol engine vehicles by 2040 but there is more to do – and those designers, contractors, investors, and developers at the top of industry have a great weight of influence to drive change.

We have seen in the last month the industry act quickly in response to the brutal archaic laws against the LGBTQ community introduced in Brunei, severing ties with The Dorchester, and a high profile campaign to address the gender imbalance – when united huge strides can be taken in the right direction, I hope we see the same action taken to tackle our generation (and future’s) biggest problem.