Share:

The Urgency to Mitigate Climate Change Increases

Andrew Baker • 20/05/2020

As we entered this new decade Climate Change was topping polls across the globe as the public’s #1 concern. The past few months have seen COVID-19 claim all the headlines and be the singular focus of people and governments alike.   

The 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) would have been hosted in the UK. It was to be the most important gathering of up to 200 world leaders on climate change in history and the largest summit the UK has ever hosted. The aim to produce a set of commitments to transition to a low carbon global economy. Instead, COP26 has been postponed to 2021 and we are in the depths of a human and economic crisis the likes of which we have not seen in our lifetimes. 

Yet, we are assured the impacts of COVID-19, while catastrophic, will be relatively short term and the economic bounce back will be strong.  

Will climate change then reassert its #1 position on people’s agendas or will we see a lost decade of climate action similar to the period post Global Financial Crisis? 

There is only one answer that is even vaguely acceptable. Climate change has to be addressed and to be seen as part of the solution to the global economic travails we face. 

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, there was widespread consensus among the majority of global leaders, policy makers and senior financiers that climate change was an existential threat to our current way of life. Urgent transition to a zero-carbon economy was required. 

If the climate models are correct the estimated number of human casualties and the threat to the global economy are in a different stratosphere to COVID-19 if we continue on our current path. 

Even if all nations go beyond the global carbon targets agreed in the Paris Climate Agreement the modelling suggests we are still on course to see mass extinctions, unprecedented flooding of coastal communities, collapse of some ecosystems and fishery catches decreasing by up to 3 million tonnes over the next few decades.  

The real estate industry has a fundamental role in mitigating the impact of climate change and helping the regrowth in the global economy.   

  1. Transitioning to a zero-carbon future, this means factoring in full lifecycle carbon analysis into construction and refurbishment projects. 
  2. Accounting for carbon impacts in our site selection criteria.
  3. Greater awareness of what a “green” asset is and be able to provide this insight to the broader industry. 
  4. Sustained and systemic change in the commercial real estate industry and in the wider economy. 

The highly influential Taskforce on Climate Related Disclosure – established in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis to ensure long term economic stability – has set out in detail the level of in-depth information required from business to allow investors, lenders and insurers to adequately understand and factor in their exposure to climate risk. 

These requirements stand unimpacted and independent of COVID-19 and will continue to revolutionize our sector in the years to come as increasing numbers of investors and occupiers respond to pressure to report on and address their exposure to strategic climate risks.

I recently wrote about the potentially long lasting impacts of COVID-19 on real estate sustainability performance. Buoyed by the radical change in business travel patterns and  the shift to technology solutions, changes to commutes and positive attitudes to remote working, as well as the focus on the health and wellbeing of building occupants. 

It has to be recognised that these short-term positive impacts cannot replace the fundamental and urgent need to decarbonise all aspects of the real estate industry.  

Time again, we’ve seen that failure to take decisive global action can have catastrophic results. We must achieve collective global agreement and action against strategic global threats like climate change. If we do not, we will be contributing to yet more human and economic hardship in the future. 

The built environment is a critical driver of the global economy. It is now essential that we recognise the role it plays as part of the solution to negating the worst potential impacts of climate change. 

Sustainability
Climate change and limited natural resources mean that the traditional approaches of the property sector need to change radically.
Learn More
Glass office facade with tree Australia
Insights • Sustainability

COVID-19 Impacts on Sustainability in Real Estate

A spotlight on the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on sustainability in real estate. 
Andrew Baker • 09/04/2020
CSR card (image)
Corporate Social Responsibility

SHAPING A SUSTAINABLE, SUCCESSFUL, RESPONSIBLE FIRM

Learn More

Latest COVID-19 articles

Power plant engineer
Insights • Office

The Safe Office - Pivoting Building Ventilation Strategies

The start of 2020 saw building engineers focused on new minimum energy efficiency standards and the drive to net zero carbon by 2050. We have now pivoted to looking at how safe our office buildings are for occupiers upon a return to work, including the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on ventilation and air conditioning systems. 
Tony Comber • 20/05/2020
Ship with shipping containers
Insights • Retail

Retail & Supply Chain

2021 will continue to see growth in e-commerce and logistics demand and new retail supply chain models will be required to capitalise on the structural shifts in the sector.
Paul Durkin • 04/11/2020
Glass office facade with tree Australia
Insights • Sustainability

The Urgency to Mitigate Climate Change Increases

We are assured the impacts of COVID-19, while catastrophic, will be relatively short term and the economic bounce back will be strong. Will climate change then reassert its #1 position on people’s agendas or will we see a lost decade of climate action?
Andrew Baker • 20/05/2020
Coruna, Spain
Insights • Commentary

The Property Industry Needs to Change

The property industry needs to change. That’s nothing new. However, COVID-19 is a spark that is likely to set a fire under much of what we know. 
Richard Pickering • 20/05/2020
recovery readiness guide 2.0 card (image)
Research • Workplace

Recovery Readiness: A How-to Guide for Reopening your Workplace

The “Recovery Readiness: A How-to Guide for Reopening your Workplace,” outlines some of the best thinking and practices that our more than 53,000 professionals have compiled across the globe and also includes insights from key partners.
02/09/2020
red steel building
Insights • Commentary

UK Real Estate Perspectives

As the COVID-19 pandemic envelops the globe, we are committed to providing our clients with up to the minute intelligence and commentary as to what is happening in the real estate markets.
Digby Flower • 04/11/2020

MORE INSIGHT

New Perspectives (image)
Research • Topical Report

New Perspective: From Pandemic to Performance

As a global leader in the commercial real estate (CRE) industry, Cushman & Wakefield offers clients a new perspective on COVID-19’s impact on CRE and beyond, preparing them for what’s next.
red steel building
Insights • Commentary

UK Real Estate Perspectives

As the COVID-19 pandemic envelops the globe, we are committed to providing our clients with up to the minute intelligence and commentary as to what is happening in the real estate markets.
Digby Flower • 04/11/2020
EMEA Covid (image)
Insights • Economy

COVID-19 Impacts for EMEA Real Estate

As the global pandemic progresses across borders and within countries our EMEA local market research colleagues will share what they are seeing on the ground.
Andrew Phipps • 12/11/2020

CAN'T FIND WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR?

Get in touch with one of our professionals.