United Nations’ panel find actions in the built environment can positively impact climate change.

(Photo: IMF Photo/Tamara Merino/flickr)

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has published scientific evidence designed to remove any doubt that human actions are contributing to climate change and human actions, particularly in the built environment, can limit the impact.

Scientists are observing changes in the earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system, according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion — such as continued sea level rise — are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years, the report says.

However, strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change, the IPCC says. While benefits for air quality would come quickly, it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilise, according to the IPCC Working Group I report, Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis, approved by 195 national governments within the United Nations.

The Working Group I report is the first instalment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be completed in 2022.

British ecologist Robert Spencer, a director with construction consultant Aecom, 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.

“Some aspects of climate change are now inevitable, and we need to be ready to respond to expected threats. For the built environment sector, driving in resilience to anticipate, absorb and recover from the effects of climate related events should be at the forefront of everything we do now.

“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.”

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