COP26 and net zero: If not now, then when?

LOM is a net zero practice committed to keeping global heating below 1.5ᴼC. Our global leaders must take the lead from businesses and do the same before it’s too late.

A complete realignment of our built environment is critical for a sustainable world – and this places architects and designers centre stage in tackling the climate crisis.

No business can afford to shirk the responsibility we have to make our buildings more sustainable. At LOM, we have pledged to do what we can to help keep global warming at or below 1.5ᴼC compared with pre-industrial levels. We are matching intent with action and have signed an open letter calling on all companies to do the same.

We are already an operationally net zero business, certified by the Science Based Targets Initiative, but we acknowledge that it’s been easier for us to achieve this important milestone than some other firms. This is why we need all companies to join with us in this call to government: because fixing this problem goes beyond just commitments and plans by businesses – we need our politicians and world leaders to step up.

As the vital COP26 climate summit begins in Glasgow, the UK Government has announced a budget with conflicting climate messages. Right now we need bold policies and global agreements that catalyse the innovation and ambition already present in the built environment sector. This could mean a push for a standardised international Whole-Life Carbon Assessment, that would encourage retrofitting and reusing buildings and materials worldwide. Or a commitment to work together to decarbonise the international supply chain for construction?

Creative solutions are being suggested by innovators across design, construction and development. So governments need to work and listen more closely to businesses trying to provide practical solutions that look holistically at how to balance sustainability and pace of change with reality.

A net zero built environment is realistic and it doesn’t have to come with a killer price tag. All eyes are now trained on Glasgow, and we’ll need more than just words.

This article is by LOM’s directors: John Avery, Simon Bird, Richard Hutchinson and Simon Marett.

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