London has committed to achieve net zero carbon targets by 2050, with the Mayor proposing to bring the deadline forward to 2030. Zero Carbon London offers an unprecedented insight into where the built environment profession is currently in the fight against climate change, and the measures that need to be prioritised in London to achieve this goal. In this report we present survey findings from over 100 companies in the sector, detailed analysis and a showcase of over 80 exemplar projects that push the bar of environmental design and contribute to London’s ambition to become a low carbon city and help stop global warming.
On 20 September 2019 Climate Strike demonstrators gathered outside the Building Centre. Coordinated by the UKGBC, architects, engineers, surveyors and others from the industry joined tens of thousands of protesters across the country as part of the school strike for climate movement inspired by Greta Thunberg.
The crescent outside NLA was packed with placard-waving protesters who then marched to the Palace of Westminster to make their case. It was a seminal moment, coming just before the United Nations Climate Action Summit, at a time when Extinction Rebellion protests were blocking London’s streets. It is estimated that over four million people took part in strikes that day. Professionals and public bodies alike declared climate emergencies. It felt that a corner had been turned. So it is encouraging, in this survey of NLA members’ attitudes and of their work, to understand how the design and development professions are responding to the crisis. It is good to see that nearly all of the respondents to the survey have signed up to one of the industry pledges. It is encouraging to note that the industry feels it has the skills to address climate issues, but disheartening that the biggest barriers are regulation and finance.
One might have thought that the momentum of September 2019 would have dissipated as a result of the current pandemic but the opposite is happening — 91 per cent believe that ‘the COVID-19 crisis could be an opportunity to transform our way of life and act in a more environmentally conscious way.’ And the global picture looks rosier now as America elects a President who ran on a ticket of clean energy and promises to deliver net-zero no later than 2050. He is also pledged to rally the rest of the world to meet the threat of climate change. He will recommit the United States to the Paris
Agreement and push every major country to ramp up the ambition of their domestic climate targets.
Boris Johnson has put tackling climate change at the top of the list of projects for collaboration with the new incumbent of the White House. In the light of Brexit, it is probably the only card he has to play. His Government is pushing forward with changes to Building Safety, to Regulation and to Planning, and with COP26 coming up in November 2021 in Glasgow, now is the time to align all policies and regulations to address the climate emergency so that we can really deliver on the zero carbon ambitions.