GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN — The construction sector, the real estate industry and city planners must give high priority to drastically reducing their climate impacts, suggests a new paper released at the culmination of the Beyond 2020 World Conference held online Nov. 2 to 4.
The Framework Document on a Transformational Plan for the Built Environment was prepared by Colin Fudge, visiting professor of urban futures and design at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, and Holger Wallbaum, professor in sustainable building at Chalmers and host of Beyond 2020. A statement said the framework aims to lay the foundation for regional strategies that can guide the sectors in working towards sustainable cities and communities and the goals of the UN Agenda 2030.
“If we continue as before, we have no chance of even getting close to the climate goals. Now we need to act with new radical thinking and we need to do it fast, and increase the pace at which we work to reduce cities’ climate impact. We must look for innovative ways to build our societies so that we move towards the sustainability goals, and not away from them,” said Fudge.
“The conference clearly demonstrated the growing awareness of sustainability issues among more and more actors in the sector. But it’s not enough. Achieving the sustainability goals will require a common understanding among all actors of how they can be achieved – and, not least, real action. That is what we want to contribute to now,” said Wallbaum.
In the framework, Wallbaum and Fudge have added an action plan for northwestern Europe that contains 72 proposals for reform measures.
The proposals cover energy efficiency improvements, research into new building materials, digital tools and renovation methods, free public transport, more green spaces and cycle paths. They involve all actors from the sector such as architects, builders, real estate companies, material producers and urban planners.
Several of the high-priority measures in northwestern Europe are under direct governmental responsibility:
- Higher taxes on carbon dioxide emissions and utilization of land and natural resources – lower taxes on labour
- State support for energy-efficient renovation works
- A plan for large-scale production of sustainable, affordable housing
- Increased pace in the phasing out of fossil fuels in favour of electric power from renewables.
“Here, governments, in collaboration with towns, cities and other sectors, have a key role, as it is political decisions such as taxation, targeted support and national strategies that can pave the way for the radical changes we propose. But all actors with influence over the built environment must contribute to change. In other parts of the world, it may be the business community that plays the corresponding main role,” said Wallbaum.