Climate Change Global Digest Spring 2021
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This year will see a wealth of research and new ideas emerging, as we head towards the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 1–12 November 2021. In this article, we highlight the latest work of the UK’s Climate Change Committee and flag the opportunities to engage with research feeding into COP26.
UK’s SIXTH CARBON BUDGET
Building on two years’ work by the Climate Change Committee (CCC), and on the back of their Net Zero report in 2019, the UK’s Sixth Carbon Budget was published in December, and it provides a blueprint for full decarbonisation in the UK. The report sets out multiple scenarios and paths to net zero carbon and emphasises four key steps:
- The take up of low-carbon solutions
- The expansion of low-carbon energy supplies
- The reduction in demand for carbon intensive activities
- The removal of land and greenhouse gas.
A 30-minute video usefully accompanies the report and talks through the recommended path that the CCC is promoting to Government. Within the report there are a series of summaries by sector, including ones for surface transport, buildings, and agriculture and land use which will be of particular interest to urban designers. Under the buildings heading, it includes four priorities for the coming decade: upgrading all buildings to Energy Performance Certificate ‘C’ over the next 10-15 years; scaling up the market for heat pumps; expanding the rollout of low-carbon heat networks in heat dense areas like cities; and, preparing for a potential role for hydrogen in providing heat. Under surface transport, the report recommends locking in ‘positive behaviours seen during the COVID-19 pandemic and societal and technological changes to reduce demand (e.g. shared mobility and focus on broadband rather than road-building)’. It is assumed that car miles will be reduced by 9 per cent (e.g. through increased home-working) or ‘shifted to lower-carbon modes (such as walking, cycling and public transport) by 2035, increasing to 17 per cent by 2050’.
BUILDING TOWARDS COP26
At the time of writing, the Met Office is planning a virtual hackathon for March 2021 aimed at building society’s resilience to climate change. The purpose is to find new ways to use data to manage the challenges and exploit the opportunities of the changing climate. The most relevant outputs will be showcased at COP26, and its focus is challenges in three key themes: Marine and Coastal; Nature-based Solutions; and Sustainable Development at Home and Abroad. The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy launched a tender for its Visions for a Net Zero Future project to build engagement ahead of the COP26 climate summit. The project will develop a series of country and regional-specific visualisations. These will communicate the scientific evidence on different global pathways to a net-zero future, exploring science and innovation solutions and the related benefits and trade-offs. The material will be developed in virtual workshops by regional stakeholders.
The Big Conversation launched by Nottingham City Council as part of the re-imagining Broadmarsh Shopping Centre project in Nottingham, has prompted a host of climate positive proposals. The submission by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust for example is to transform the former Broadmarsh Shopping Centre into ‘a space for nature and people, signalling a new greener future’ for the city. This emphasis on re-wilding cities, including city centres, will be a growing trend as centres look to reframe themselves post-COVID.
Readers in Scotland may already be aware of Adaptation Scotland’s Climate Ready Places website, but this is a great visual and interactive resource to help explain climate change adaptation measures in different types of urban environment. The tool provides insights for urban, suburban and rural locations. We recommend taking a look.