Construction’s role in tackling climate change ‘crucial’

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Construction has a “crucial” role to play in tackling climate change and will need to work together to achieve the greatest impact.

That’s according to Robert Spencer, Aecom’s business line director – ESG, following the launch of the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has issued a stark warning of irreversible and unprecedented climate change brought about by human activity unless the world acts quickly to reduce emissions.

UN secretary general António Guterres warned the report is “a code red for humanity”, which set out how the planet could be hit by increasingly extreme heatwaves, droughts, and flooding without rapid and deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

The IPCC found that cutting emissions, starting immediately, to net zero by the middle of this century would give a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C in the long term and help avoid the worst effects of climate change.

The report is the first major review of climate change science since 2013 and comes ahead of the COP26 climate change summit, which is due to be held in Glasgow from 31 October until 12 November.

Spencer said: “The latest IPCC report sends the clearest message yet on the need for urgent action if we are to avert the worst impacts of climate change. COP26 will help clarify where investments and activities should be prioritised, transforming promises into funded and much-needed, widespread action.

“As an industry, the greatest impact will be felt through our collaborative action. We must use our collective expertise, working with clients and supply chains, to play our crucial part in tackling the climate and biodiversity emergencies. As a knowledge-based sector, we will need to use our skills and capabilities to raise awareness and provide training and solutions that will rapidly support our clients and communities on their journeys to net zero.”

He added: “It is no longer enough for organisations to set ambitious net zero carbon targets without a clear pathway for how to achieve them by 2030. As a business, Aecom has signed up to science-based targets, which are independently validated and assessed, and we urge others to do the same – investment and delivery is all important in these next short years.

Graham Harle, chief executive officer, Gleeds, said, “As governments around the world react to the continuous impact of the covid-19 pandemic, there has never been a more important time for us to re-examine our carbon footprint and our responsibilities to address the long-term effects of climate change. The built environment sector has responded swiftly to the impact of covid-19, and through the Science Based Targets initiative, we have the opportunity to build resilience for the future, by aligning our recovery efforts with a drive to reduce carbon emissions.”

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