Climate change act 10 years on

From 80% to net zero; the Climate Change Act 10 years on


The Built Environment


zero carbon

Much has changed over the decade since the Climate Change Act was almost unanimously enshrined in law in 2008. The UK, in the vanguard of climate change legislation, has since then been settling into the hard realities of putting this ambitious Act into practice. Based on empirical scientific evidence the Climate Change Act’s overall objective was to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by 80%. Now, 10 years on, research points to the need for a revised net zero target by 2050. On 24th June 2019 the new net zero target was officially incorporated into UK law, showing its commitment to reducing carbon outputs. Chris Skidmore passing bill zero carbon Chris Skidmore – Energy and Clean Growth Minister – passing bill: Public opinion ‘Act Now’ The road travelled has been anything but straight, or even singular. Way out in the lead with a reduction of 59%, the energy sector has set the bar high. This remarkable turnaround is a result of the carrot and stick posed by both the Climate Change Act and legally binding EU regulations (the EU Renewables Directive). The UK has managed to achieve its first two carbon budgets and is currently on track to achieve its third. However, the CCC (Committee for Climate Change) has warned that if our rate of adoption throughout sectors (particularly transport and the built environment) does not significantly increase, we will be unable to achieve our fourth and fifth budgets. Now with the net zero target to achieve, the pressure to increase the rate of decarbonisation has just got even greater! Carbon budgets - brochure Net Zero Current carbon budgets – New target: Net Zero Many experts believe that the act has proved a catalyst to a major turnaround in public opinion. This in its turn is changing attitudes within the business sector. New start-ups and entrepreneurs are coming up with new and imaginative ideas, materials and approaches. This wave of creativity is driving up the pace of change in all sectors. Even the big boys such as Shell and BP are escalating their efforts. Taking up the mantle, influencers within the built environment have recently banded together to help build momentum. Architects Declare was established by 17 winners of the RIBA Stirling Prize. It comprises of a set of sustainability principles to which architects commit. Architects Declare principles Architects Declare Principles “For everyone working in the construction industry, meeting the needs of our society without breaching the earth’s ecological boundaries will demand a paradigm shift in our behaviour. Together with our clients, we will need to commission and design buildings, cities and infrastructures as indivisible components of a larger, constantly regenerating and self-sustaining system”. The Ecologist 20th May 19 Architects Declare, open letter. Very much to everyone’s surprise, the positive response to their open letter was overwhelming. At the time of writing 495 Architect firms had publicly committed to upholding these rules throughout their future design work. This pledge requires architects to completely rethink how they design and specify their buildings; giving sustainability top priority. Perhaps empirical evidence and a surge of public opinion (particularly the younger generation) is finally making business and governments take action to turn the tide and change history; stopping our decline into global warming and ultimately saving our planet.