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COP21: Built Environment crucial to attaining carbon emissions targets

The built environment has a vital role to play in helping governments meet their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions targets. These targets are going to be central when 196 governments meet in Paris for a crucial climate change summit hosted by the United Nations. The meeting, called the 21st Conference of the Parties or COP21, is of particular significance because world leaders and negotiators must agree on a new climate deal aimed at curbing the damaging effects of greenhouse gas emissions on the global climate.

As a global professional body working in the public interest, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) will be in Paris to join stakeholders from governments, industry and civil society to support efforts to reach an agreement, says TC Chetty SA country manager for RICS. “The commitments made in Paris could have far-reaching repercussions for the built environment, and the global economy more generally.

“Buildings are some of the biggest emitters of CO2 accounting for one-third of global greenhouse gasses.  Commercial and residential buildings also account for 40 percent of the world’s energy consumption. RICS is working with its members in the land, real estate and construction sectors to find solutions across the property lifecycle to support more sustainable business practices.”

Says Sean Tompkins, RICS CEO: “The property sector has a huge influence on the global financial system. We want to leverage this influence to support the efforts of governments as they negotiate a new climate deal in Paris. RICS is a natural partner for the United Nations, with whom we have worked before on creating a framework for businesses to act more responsibly in relation to their real estate assets. We want to build on that relationship by supporting governments as they make adaption and mitigation commitments to curb the effects of climate change.”                                 

Governments negotiating at COP21 are under pressure to produce an international climate agreement that balances environmental ambitions with the global economic realities.  RICS, with its global network of professionals in more than 140 countries and with the international professional standards it is developing with other organisations, wants to give governments the ‘Confidence to Commit’. RICS wants governments to be confident in the knowledge that the progress made towards their commitments to reduce CO2 emissions can be measured through the tools and expertise the organisation provides around the world.

“COP21 is all about commitments for governments as they finalise a climate deal. We want to support these efforts by making our own commitment to influence our members, their clients and the wider built environment sector. The commitments we make will have an impact well beyond COP21 and they must be central to our sector’s response to the challenges posed by climate change,” says Tompkins.
                                                                                            
RICS will also use the Paris summit to contribute to shaping the global agenda by participating the UN Environmental Programme’s (UNEP) first ever Buildings Day on 3 December 2015 in Paris. As part of the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, RICS common goal is to address the impact of buildings on the climate, not just on the occasion of COP21 but far beyond.


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