11 Oct 2021

Addressing the urgency of the climate crisis

The climate emergency has reached a boiling point. Anticipation is mounting and the stakes are high for the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is scheduled for November 1-12 in Glasgow. This annual convening of virtually all nations in the world was originally scheduled for November 2020, but was postponed to November 2021 due to COVID-19. COP26 has been called the “last hope to reverse the climate crisis” and the “most important climate summit since Paris in 2015.”

Some of the leading issues to watch at COP26 include strategies to reach the ambitious global net zero carbon emissions goal by 2050, regulatory mechanisms and funding to promote climate justice for vulnerable communities, the impact of the return of the U.S. to the global climate governance stage for the first time since Paris in 2015, and the role of COVID-19 as an added layer of urgency and complexity in seeking ambitious climate action. Compounding the urgency for action is the recent release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) Sixth Assessment Report, which includes grim projections for the planet and humanity in the coming decades as a result of climate change impacts. Many of these impacts have already occurred in 2021 in the form of extreme heat, devastating floods and wildfires, severe storms, species loss, and climate displacement.

Climate change impacts all sectors of the economy, including the housing industry. In this presentation at The Big Conversation, I will address the urgency of the climate crisis, what measures need to be taken to address it effectively, and how housing professionals will be impacted and need to adapt to climate change impacts. For example, many buildings are vulnerable to climate change. There may be an increase in the risk of collapse, a significant loss of value as a result of more storms, and deteriorating indoor climate and reduced building lifetimes. Moreover, impacts to housing from flooding and other extreme weather events will influence the behaviour of portfolio lenders, federal housing programs, and mortgage investors. Climate change impacts affect real estate value and market demand will continue to shift away from areas vulnerable to climate change threats. In addition, the insurance industry is scrambling to adapt to the increasing risk of loss in the housing market due to climate change threats. Finally, there is a need to promote climate-friendly design and retrofitting of buildings to enhance energy efficiency and promote climate change adaptation by enhancing tree cover and green space in new and existing housing developments to enhance carbon sequestration.

Randall S. Abate
Rechnitz Family/UCI Endowed Chair in Marine and Environmental Law and Policy
Director, Institute for Global Understanding
Professor, Department of Political Science and Sociology, Monmouth University

Hear more from Randall Abate when he joins us as a speaker at The Big Conversation, 1 December. Find out more.