The world’s media is focused on Paris for the next two weeks as representatives from over 190 countries gather to agree a new international deal to tackle climate change. Whether you are optimistic that the acrimony of the COP15 talks in Copenhagen can be avoided, or cynical about the ability of the world’s leaders to agree meaningful and accountable targets, there’s no doubt that change is needed in our approach to our environment if we are to mitigate the significant effects of climate change.
When major events like this are happening, it’s easy to think that climate change is someone else’s problem – something for our leaders to solve on our behalf. And whilst it’s true that national and international frameworks are necessary vehicles to drive changes in behaviour and lower emissions, we cannot sit back and wait for the UN or our Governments to reach agreement.
In our work across the globe we seek climate solutions for our clients in legislative environments that vary dramatically. But whether we’re working with apex national decision makers, or at the grass-roots scale with householder development, we’ve found that many of our clients are embracing the need to account for a changing climate in their projects – whether required to or not. Taking action is everyone’s responsibility.
The truth is that as much as international agreements are important, meaningful and lasting changes in behaviour, building or infrastructure design and project financing are needed at all scales – cascading from both top down strategy and bottom up solutions.
We’re optimistic that governments are taking the changing climate seriously, and we have a proven track record in helping some of the largest cities in the world become more sustainable and climate-adapted. To us, it is important that the States at COP21 commit themselves to clear targets, clear actions and that the commitment is long lasting.
Whatever the international framework looks like after these COP21 talks, there are already numerous vehicles and frameworks at regional, local and individual levels which are successfully delivering sustainable solutions. Cities in particular play an integral role in tackling these global challenges, especially when it is expected that 60 per cent of the world’s population are expected to live in urban areas by 2030.
At Ramboll we’re passionate about creating sustainable, liveable cities which achieve prosperity alongside climate resilience. Achieving this needs “on the ground” solutions which connect infrastructure to amenity, but it also needs social and cultural elements along with good governance. We need frameworks within frameworks, fractals that apply at all scales, to transform innovate strategy into pragmatic, implementable solutions.
So while the world holds its breath and waits for the outcome of these important talks, we must continue to take action in the arenas in which we have influence.
COP21 is important, there’s no doubt about that, but we don’t need to wait to make a change in the projects and decisions we are involved in.