There has been much in the press around net-zero since the government announced its intention to become the first G7 country to legislate a zero emissions target. As one of the biggest contributors of carbon emissions, this legislation will have a major effect on the real estate market.
It is evident that businesses across the built environment have already started to accelerate their sustainability programmes, but we now need granular policy and industry commitment to make it happen. Since the announcement in June, we have seen industry bodies like the UKGBC producing guides and reports for their members on helping CRE companies understand the true impact of their activities throughout their value chain and within their workforce. However we are yet to see further action from the government. Currently all legislation points to measuring and reporting on the energy being used, but nothing encourages businesses to reduce it. A net-zero target is unlikely to be met without such governance.
Our Managing Director, Tracy Lewis, wrote to our local MP, Ranil Jayawardena, asking whether there were any plans to enforce energy reduction targets. The reply was somewhat disappointing. In his letter of response he wrote that his belief is enforcing energy reduction schemes was not the answer and that soon enough society will force businesses to respond. This is certainly backed up by Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, who in a recent TV interview stated companies that fail to respond to climate change will go bust. It is also evident from a recent consumer survey that revealed climate change is now among the top three issues customers expect businesses to tackle, climbing up the league table from 17th position in last year’s report. However will external pressure alone drive the required change to reach net-zero by 2050? Surely this is a risky approach. Our experience shows legislation does work and there is no better way to accelerate the pace of change required to meet such an ambitious target.