November 25, 2015

COP21: Built Environment crucial to attaining CO2 emissions targets

COP21: Built Environment crucial to attaining CO2 emissions targets

The built environment has a vital role to play in helping governments meet their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions targets. These targets are going to be central at the end of the month when 196 governments meet in Paris for a crucial climate change summit hosted by the United Nations. The meeting, called the 21st Conference of the Parties or COP21, is of particular significance because world leaders and negotiators must agree on a new climate deal aimed at curbing the damaging effects of greenhouse gas emissions on the global climate.

As a global professional body working in the public interest, RICS will be in Paris to join stakeholders from governments, industry and civil society to support efforts to reach an agreement. The commitments made in Paris could have far-reaching repercussions for the built environment, and the global economy more generally.

Buildings are some of the biggest emitters of CO2 accounting for one-third of global greenhouse gasses. Commercial and residential buildings also account for 40 percent of the world’s energy consumption. RICS is working with its members in the land, real estate and construction sectors to find solutions across the property lifecycle to support more sustainable business practices.

“The property sector has a huge influence on the global financial system. We want to leverage this influence to support the efforts of governments as they negotiate a new climate deal in Paris. RICS is a natural partner for the United Nations. We have worked with the UN before on creating a framework for businesses to act more responsibly in relation to their real estate assets. And we want to build on that relationship by supporting governments as they make adaption and mitigation commitments to curb the effects of climate change,” said Sean Tompkins, RICS Chief Executive Officer.

Governments negotiating at COP21 are under pressure to produce an international climate agreement that balances environmental ambitions with the global economic realities. RICS, with its global network of professionals in more than 140 countries and with the international professional standards it is developing with other organisations, wants to give governments the ‘Confidence to Commit’. RICS wants governments to be confident in the knowledge that the progress made towards their commitments to reduce CO2 emissions can be measured through the tools and expertise the organisation provides around the world.

“COP21 is all about commitments for governments as they finalise a climate deal. We want to support these efforts by making our own commitment to influence our members, their clients and the wider built environment sector. The commitments we make will have an impact well beyond COP21 and they must be central to our sector’s response to the challenges posed by climate change,” said Sean Tompkins.

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