Natalie Daniels, Sustainability Account Director 

Today (30 November) world leaders will gather in Dubai to mark the start of the world’s most important climate meeting in the calendar.  

More often referred to as COP28, which stands for the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties, this momentous event will see more than 70,000 people across the world coming together to discuss climate action.  

Between now and the 12th of December, global leaders will work on ways to tackle climate change, protect the environment, and limit emissions.  

COP28 is considered a milestone moment as it will assess the progress on the Paris Agreement – a commitment made at COP21 in 2015 to limit long-term global temperature rises to 1.5C. 

Global leaders are also expected to discuss how to convince countries to move to cleaner energy sources faster, as well as examine the effect global warming is having on nature and people.  

To date, COP28 has not been without controversy, including President Biden’s decision not to attend, as well as hard questions asked about the UK’s own commitment to reduce emissions by 68% after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delayed crucial green policies such as phasing out fossil fuel cars. 

Climate change leapt back on the agenda last month when the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) predicted that 2023 was set to be the warmest year on record across the globe.  

This, coupled with severe storms, flooding and devastating wildfires that tore through parts of the world this year, acts as a stark reminder that our climate is changing – and urgent action is needed to ensure we aren’t paying for the devastating impacts of climate change later down the line.  

COP28 and the property sector 

Day 6 of the conference will host the ‘Multilevel Action, Urbanisation and Built Environment Day’ and we hope that world leaders and experts will come together to address reporting and reducing carbon emissions through construction and the design of our buildings. The property industry knows the scale of the task on hand, and we need improved policy, ambitious targets, and commitment from global leaders to be able to accelerate the pace and scale of the progress. 

The housing sector faces some huge challenges, from changes to biodiversity net gain to the green energy transition, unlocking the value of carbon, green financing solutions and skills shortages, so the drive to push forward these agendas is now needed more than ever. The green transition provides huge opportunities to offer affordable, more efficient, and sustainable homes. 

This week brings a sense of optimism and hope that the summit will put the green agenda back in the minds of many. Our government has already promised the UK will champion nature recovery ahead of this week’s COP, so we wait with anticipation for what’s next.  

The hope is that action does follow. 

Below, some of our BR clients have their say on COP28 and the housing sector:  

“COP28 is a pivotal moment that brings the global climate crisis agenda back around the table. We need to do the right thing, not because it sounds good but because it will make a significant difference to our planet. We need to continue to take a more proactive approach whether that be through improving communities, biodiversity net gain, providing further insulation to our homes to improve EPC ratings or introducing smarter and renewable technologies. Now, more than ever, businesses need to be at the forefront of delivering positive change far beyond COP.” Lesley Treacy, Head of ESG, Dandara  

“The property industry has a huge role to play in decarbonising our environment and COP reminds us that the world must continue its effort of climate change. The UK has some of the oldest housing stock in Europe, containing a huge amount of embodied carbon. Recycling the existing housing stock has got to be prioritised, as should encouraging retrofitting through greater tax breaks for upgrading old houses. Although the UK Government has taken some steps to address the issue, the tax system still favours new builds over recycling and upgrading existing housing stock. Some truly stunning listed buildings make up about 2% of the UK’s total housing stock. Their quality, craftmanship and beauty have survived many generations, and these buildings need to be protected.  

Whilst listed buildings have stood the test of time, poor-quality buildings are demolished far more quickly, wasting huge quantities of energy. Although the complexity and energy required to heat historic buildings is greater than for new-build homes, they can be sensitively refitted to have their energy performance enhanced. For our industry going forward, our resources should be focused on supporting the existing building stock, especially the rich culture of heritage buildings in the UK.” Simon Vernon-Harcourt, Design & Planning Director at City & Country 

Keep an eye out for our post COP28 blog on the outcomes of the Summit. If you would like to find out more about sustainable communications for the property and construction industry, please contact natalie@building-relations.co.uk