Five real estate takeaways from COP26

November 30th, 2021

Amro Partners’ Managing Director Raj Kotecha reflects on the outcome of COP26 on the built environment sector.

  1. This year’s conference was the first to dedicate a day to the built environment. Energy, transport and buildings were all put in the spotlight as the biggest carbon producers, acknowledging the scale of the challenge confronting the built environment which contributes 40% of the UK’s carbon emissions. Leaders in our sector are listening, with the number of property and construction businesses signing up to the Race to Zero, the UN-backed global campaign, doubling in the run up to COP.
  2. The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) launched its Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap for the UK built environment, detailing the actions government and industry need to take to achieve Net Zero by 2050. The report details a shared vision and set of actions relating to construction, operation and demolition of buildings and infrastructure, providing a much-needed coherent plan for tackling emissions across the sector.
  3. Following six years of negotiations, the Paris Rulebook was finalised, achieving agreement on a transparency process that will hold countries to account as they deliver on their targets. This emphasis on environmental integrity will help tackle greenwashing and enable asset managers to take a portfolio-wide approach to emissions reduction across international real estate portfolios.
  4. Ratification of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement rule book established a framework for countries to exchange carbon credits through a global carbon marketplace, creating greater incentives for real estate managers and landlords to retain assets and invest in deep decarbonisation, as opposed to reliance on divestment to achieve net zero goals. However, many including the UK have taken a cautious approach to Article 6, because of the perverse incentive to spend less on reducing emissions and decarbonising assets, and instead rely on low value carbon offsets.
  5. Week two of the summit marked a milestone in environmental law as the Environment Bill was officially passed, becoming the Environment Act 2021. This marks a breakthrough for sustainable construction, providing a framework for environmental governance and legally binding targets for air pollution, biodiversity, water quality and waste.