Archive for the ‘Copenhagen Summit’ Category

A Last Word on Copenhagen

December 29, 2009

Posted By:
Tom Ansell
Valuation Advisory
United Kingdom

The furore surrounding Copenhagen was immense, and at no other time in history has our climate had so much scrutiny. The Copenhagen Accord that emerged is not the comprehensive agreement that many have demanded, nor the total waste of effort that some have claimed, but the foundations for a significant climate deal. Delegates from 192 nations, represented in the final session by India, China, United States, Brazil and South Africa, agreed upon limiting the world’s warming to 2°C, transparency in carbon auditing, and a financial package for the developing world. Angela Merkel called Cop15 the “first step towards a new world climate order,” and next year’s meeting in Mexico could be an even bigger step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

If Copenhagen marks a turning point in global consensus on climate change, it comes at a time of hope for world economies as well. The UK, the last major European nation still in recession is likely to move into growth as the Q4 results are published. Property markets across the globe, with some notable exceptions, seem to be seeing a small turn around in fortunes, and in comparison to December 2008 there is a marked improvement in confidence.

But what does Cop15 mean for property? There is an understanding of a common metric by which to measure energy use in buildings across the globe and there is no doubt governments will go into policy making with a greater understanding of the issues. For the UK and Northern Europe Copenhagen will mean very little due to the advanced nature of their green building and property regulations but for others such as the United States, India, and China policy changes are more likely to arise. We will have to wait and see what materialises.

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Possibility of a Deal in an Undoubtedly Green City

December 18, 2009

Posted By:
Tom Ansell
Valuation Advisory
United Kingdom

At the 11th hour a deal seems to be emerging from Copenhagen.  The developed world has finally accepted their greater responsibility for climate change and may agree to a maximum of an 18% reduction in emissions by 2020.  After a US commitment yesterday, COP15 is also likely deliver a $100bn (£60bn) annual Climate Protection Fund which will aid developing countries fight the effects of climate change.  China reacted in kind by agreeing to allow independent auditors to scrutinise their greenhouse gas emissions figures. These commitments looked unlikely 24 hours ago and so I venture that we should be positive of the admittedly watered down commitments.  The IPCC recommend greenhouse gas reductions of 25-40% by 2020 and the UN advised a significantly larger figure for the Climate Protection Fund.  The deal is contingent on the different pieces of the puzzle coming together. 

Whether the deal is brokered or not, the majority who attended the COP 15 won’t leave without an impression of Copenhagen as a green city.  The most visible element is the cycling trend.  Copenhagen has 300km of bicycle lanes and 35% of the population cycle to work.  By 2015 it is hoped this will reach 50%, and by 2025 the city aims to be the first capital city in the world to be carbon neutral.  This week MIT researchers launched the impressive Copenhagen Wheel which uses a SMART technology to store kinetic energy and add extra power to save your legs some work, as well as communicating cleverly with its owner.

Real action to deal with climate change demands both top-down and bottom-up solutions.  While the politicians sweat to strike an effective and legally binding deal over the coming days, weeks and months, why not take a simple leaf from the Danes’ book to cut your emissions and trial a SMART bike?

Negotiators see REDD

December 17, 2009

Posted By:
Achsah Carter
Consultant
Energy and Sustainability Services
United Kingdom

Amidst the general confusion and bickering, Copenhagen negotiators appear to be reaching consensus on at least one issue – “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation” (REDD). Chairing the discussions, Philippines negotiator Tony La Vina announced yesterday he had a “more or less agreed text”, with agreement on protecting indigenous peoples’ rights and native forests.

The property sector is a big timber consumer – in the UK 60% of timber used is for construction – and awareness of the need to use sustainable sources is rising with many of our clients already requiring Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified timber for developments. REDD helps clarify the link between timber procurement choices and climate change.

Reaching a deforestation deal matters because current forest loss accounts for 20% of global emissions (though this is still only half the emissions associated with buildings). Australia, France, Japan, Norway, the UK and the US have pledged $3.5bn for REDD from the ‘fast-start’ fund (discussed in this blog’s 11th December post) which will initially be used for training countries to monitor levels of forest cover, growth and loss.

Still under discussion, though, is whether or not REDD schemes will be eligible for carbon credits and traded on the carbon market. The US favours this option, as protecting forests is one of the cheapest short-term ways of reducing carbon emissions (costing around $5 per tonne if the mechanisms and institutions are robust enough to ensure reductions really count), and has included REDD schemes in proposed climate change legislation.

US companies keen on achieving a ‘carbon neutral’ label may soon be able to invest in cost-effective forest protection schemes. However, in the long-term, these offset schemes may only be a delaying tactic. Deforestation needs to be halted, but the depth of total emissions cuts necessary will only be made if other sectors also improve efficiency and switch to cleaner sources of energy. The most enlightened property companies may do both – invest in carbon offsets in the short-term while also upgrading and future-proofing their own assets against rising fuel prices.

Cop15 and the Role of NAMAs

December 16, 2009

Posted By:
Tom Ansell
Valuation Advisory
United Kingdom

On Friday in a pavilion on the fringe of the main Cop15 Summit, surprisingly few turned up for the Construction Counts for Climate side event (webcasts and presentations). The small audience did not set the tone for a huge number of column inches about the impact of real estate on climate change in the weekend papers and the Finnish Government should be congratulated on organising an event with some good speakers, who made some salient points.

The most interesting point from the event for me was the role that real estate “NAMAs” – Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions for developing countries – might play in arriving at a global climate change deal.  To give an example, while I was working in Bangalore, for Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj, I realised that it is clearly no good to build large glass panelled tower blocks in that region because the cost to cool these blocks would be inordinate.  A government decision to prohibit such buildings in India would be classed as a NAMA and it will be interesting to see if such real estate solutions move from the sidelines to the fore in the decisive stage of the negotiations.

As the Summit enters this stage, poignantly, the blizzards blow in to Copenhagen while delegates tussle on carbon reduction commitments and financial package agreements to reduce global warming.  Given the huge variation in effects that climate change could create, one thing we must avoid is a one size fits all policy, especially for the property sector.

A Common Carbon Metric for Buildings

December 15, 2009

Posted By:
Achsah Carter
Consultant
Energy and Sustainability Services
United Kingdom

On Friday the UK Green Building Council’s chief executive, Paul King, was in Copenhagen presenting a new Common Carbon Metric report. The metric is the result of collaboration between worldwide Green Building Councils, experts and organisations, and aims to improve consistency in measuring energy use and reporting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from building operations.

Buildings account for around 40% of global GHG emissions, and life cycle analysis shows that 80-90% of these emissions are generated during a building’s operation. To date the plethora of ‘green labels’ for buildings (LEED, BREEAM, ENERGY STAR) have been mostly for design and construction stages so comparing buildings from different regions in terms of operational energy use is extremely difficult.

The Common Carbon Metric – now starting 12-month pilots in representative climate regions – could be vital for addressing this. Its simple metrics for energy and carbon intensity can be used on any building.

The IPCC calculates that the building sector is uniquely capable of delivering GHG cuts through existing technology, more quickly and effectively than the energy, transport or forestry sectors. With this in mind, the UNEP Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative simultaneously launched a Buildings and Climate Change – Summary for Decision Makers to persuade Copenhagen negotiators to include buildings in any agreement. UNEP recommends that investment in energy efficient buildings should be included in the Clean Development Mechanism and the building sector should be a priority for national emission reduction strategies.

Tweets from Paul King suggest the negotiators may be listening, as he typed optimistically, “Delegates around the world calling for better data, common metrics, emphasis on refurb.”