Colliers’ sustainability leads respond to the outcome of the World Leaders Conference at COP26
Despite strong words from world leaders at the opening of the UN Conference on Climate Change and early commitments around reducing deforestation and methane production, Colliers’ sustainability experts warn that while scrutiny is needed of government commitments, action is also needed by the corporate world now.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told delegates at COP26 in Glasgow: “It’s one minute to midnight on the doomsday clock and we need to act now. If we don’t get serious about climate change today, it will be too late for our children to get serious about it tomorrow.” While leaders from the US and European Commission urged attendees to be on “the right side of history”.
However James Pay, Head of Client Sustainability at Colliers, warned that strong words are not enough. He said: “This needs to be the conference of actions not soundbites. Our own government policy needs to rapidly change to supports these vital aims: such as banning new coal mines, which Boris and the UK government is still leaving to local planning authorities despite saying now is the time to get real on coal. Or banning new gas boilers through the new Heat and Buildings Strategy rather than setting an ambition to phase them out, and not reducing domestic flight taxes.
“We need strong leadership now from our government with legislation that matches their stated aims, but legislation alone will not achieve these wider aims. While we scrutinise the actual actions of government, the corporate world needs to act now too. As David Attenborough said: ‘Is this how our story is due to end?’, by working together, now, we have the opportunity to make sure it isn’t.”
So far there have been commitments from 100 countries to stop deforestation by 2030 and a host of nations are pledging to reduce methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.
Andres Guzman, Head of Sustainability within Colliers' property management team added: “While we’re hoping that our leaders agree to a plan to decarbonise our economy that will be delivered in time to prevent irreversible climate damage, this conference highlights how challenging it will be to incentivise developing economies to leapfrog building an infrastructure based on fossil fuels. Big business could really show leadership and help with this aim by ensuring that their net zero aims are on the agenda for their global property portfolio, which in turn will build resilience and put pressure on individual countries to develop utilising more sustainable methods.”