As COP26 opens the rhetoric is flowing like carbon out of a coal fired power station. But as Greta Thunberg has observed, pledges without real action won’t cut it anymore.
The UK Green Building Council tells us that the built environment contributes around 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint. Those of us involved in the property industry must do better.
As a commercial property lawyer, a good place to focus my contribution is to make green clauses in leases more common and to help landlords and occupiers understand their implications so that they are not afraid to agree to their inclusion. To make this more likely, the agents negotiating heads of terms need to include in their discussions agreement on principles that the parties are happy to commit to.
The Better Building Partnership has done some excellent work on this, making recommendations as to matters landlords and occupiers should be thinking about; energy, water, waste and other services, works, reinstatement. The key message is to share information and data to enable sensible strategies to be decided and to collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. To take time to think beyond the traditional way of doing things and instead to do what is right. Like many things we can do to become greener, the changes are not rocket science and in many cases not even radical. They simply take a moment's reflection to do things differently to how they have been done in the past.
We all know it is the right thing to do. But even at a pure business level, demonstrating green credentials is becoming increasingly important to customers and employees alike. Which makes it a no-brainer.
The prime minister has told global leaders the planet is in "roughly the same position as James Bond", strapped to a doomsday device and desperately trying to avoid "a detonation that will end human life as we know."