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On the climate strike on 20 September and why all the property stars need to be there

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News from the front desk 449: Who’s going to join the global Climate Strike on Friday 20 September? In Australia engineering firm Cundall is encouraging its staff to join, following the example of the UK Green Building Council and it wants to know who among its peers will join.

In the UK the Green Building Council is advocating for all its members join the Global Climate Strike on 20 September.

According to chief executive Julie Hirigoyen the UKGBC will:

  • Enable all its staff to participate in the Global Climate Strike on 20 September
  • Encourage UKGBC members to join us for part of the strike to show strong built environment support for urgent climate action from policy-makers and industry

Share our approach, and publicly stated climate commitments of our members using our Climate Leadership Model

There will even be information on how people can join the strikes locally where UKGBC has a permanent presence such as Birmingham, Bristol, London and Manchester.

We need an urgent shift to net zero carbon buildings, and deep cuts in emissions across the whole built environment.

UKGBC wants to ensure that the built environment industry is at the forefront of climate leadership. To enable this, on 20 September, we will be launching a climate leadership model with a call to action for all businesses to use this in setting their built environment specific commitments.

The 20 September is the date of the Global Climate Strike, where schoolchildren striking for climate action have called for all adults to join them.

To change everything, we need everyone.

Go Julie!

Hirigoyen was part of our salon event on green bonds and green finance in London a few years ago and we liked her style. See her contribution to the ebook report here.

Hirigoyen says the built environment needs to be at the forefront of climate leadership and will launch a leadership model on the day of the strike.

In Australia, engineering firm Cundall is following the UK lead and says it will support its staff to take part in this event and it’s “hoping to see our industry join us”.

Cundall director David Clark said:

Cundall has a strong commitment to tackling climate change, including being a founding signatory of the WGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment in 2018 and a One Planet Company since 2013. Many of Cundall’s staff are passionate about the climate crisis and so anyone wanting to join the global demonstration will be given the flexibility to do so.

Cundall are encouraging others in the industry to adopt a similar approach.

Here’s the link to find out more about the strike.

And why not send us a note if you are planning to join and allow us to amplify your commitment to our readers editorial@thefifthestate.com.au

We asked the GBCA on Thursday for its reaction to the Climate Strike and its UK counterpart. In a media statement it said:

We are very supportive of the action of our members and international colleagues, as it helps to achieve that objective.

We hope the Strike and Climate Action Summit will build an even stronger consensus for more ambitious action.

As our view is already well-known, we think it is particularly important to remain open through this time, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to continue delivering change on the ground in collaboration with our members and consistent with our purpose. Should others be inspired by this action, our door will be open and we will be ready to help encourage them to turn inspiration into action.

It’s understandable the two GBCs have a difference in stance.

The UKGBC is quite a different structure to its Australian corollary. It’s an advocacy group and doesn’t rate buildings (as the GBCA does) so it’s more easily able to act in an aligned but independent way to the industry it represents. And to be fair, Hirigoyen must be encouraged to see the UK government is sticking to its Climate Emergency declaration even after the conservative pro-Brexit Boris Johnson has taken the reins as PM. While in this country things are clearly a bit different. At the very least the GBCA probably feels a tad more sensitive to its members’ corporate feelings and inclinations.

Having said that, wouldn’t it be amazing to see the heads of the biggest property companies come out for an hour or two – on 20 September and join the strike?

It would certainly catch the eye of PM Scott Morrison who knows all these people, having worked at the Property Council for several years.

That’s the kind of influence and positive net zero action that can tip the scales of policy. Mind, it would have to be subtle.

Morrison, we suspect, might be a closet sympathiser himself, being endowed as he’s proved with super sensitive antennae when it comes to the voting public. We think he knows that the people of Australia voted for him because they were spooked by taxes and a fragile economy rather than a fear of climate action. The desire to cut emissions, become more sustainable, reduce waste and save what’s left of The Great Barrier Reef is strong and only getting stronger. He will know that and his recent action to fund more recycling is evidence he will listen.

And why shouldn’t the property owners take a stand?

Their major consultants, the people who actually build, design and advise on the buildings, are making their feelings clear. Check out Anne Susskind’s story on what some of Australia’s leading architects say of the climate emergency declaration by their peers.

And this week, Willow Aliento follows up with a great piece on how the engineers are going the same way.  And what happens to companies who are sticking to their coal work – GHD for instance.

Then there was the dreadful furore about Aurecon. We trust you saw the mad comments from industry and innovation minister Matt Canavan calling this proud company “weak as piss” for getting out of the Adani coal mine. Our Twitter followers did not agree and we are chuffed Aurecon has joined the growing stream of businesses – AECOM, Downer included – who have removed themselves from Adani and hopefully because they understand they need to be focused on the future, not the past.

So property owners, why don’t you consider joining your professional consultants and join in the Climate Strike on 20th of September? It wouldn’t have to be tacky. You could do so in a way that maintains your corporate dignity. Maybe we could have a special dais for you, say on the Property Council balcony in Barrack Street, Sydney, overlooking the thronging crowds, below, where you could hail your future occupants and shareholders. It’d be good.

And ScoMo, who will be paying special attention to this day, will know that balcony and wish he was there with you, enjoying the glory of the cavalry riding over the mountain to save the rest of us.

After our food and flying, it really is about the built environment.

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