Impact of IPPC Climate Change Report on UK Planners & Architects


The IPPC Report on the impacts of global warming published on 8 October 2018 highlights not only the perceived dangers confronting the planet but also those business sectors which must take the lead in tackling the issues.  In particular it cites the development industry and the roles of planners and architects (See recent article in ” The Planner”)

The IPPC report highlights the need to restrict global warming to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels compared to the existing post Paris target of 2.0oC and outlines the possible impacts that this 0.5oC could make. The Report states however that…. “The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5ºC are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate,” and would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in development, energy, buildings and transport. All are areas in which planning and design have a vital role to play.

Planning & Infrastructure

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The Report identified a number of key considerations: –

  • 70 million additional urban residents every year through to the mid part of this century (UN, 2014);
  • The combination of urbanisation and economic and infrastructure development could account for an additional 226 GtCO2 by 2050;
  • Stronger urban systems / planning is needed to aid the commitment to smart, sustainable cities, as required to hit targets;
  • With systematic planning low-carbon cities could reduce the need to deploy Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) and Solar Radiation Modification (SRM)
  • In Cities themselves the prime risks associated with climate change will coalesce (including heat stress, terrestrial and coastal flooding, disease spread, air pollution and water scarcity). If the 1.5oC target is to be met mitigation design will require :-
    • decarbonise of urban societies in developed countries
    • provision of low-carbon solutions to the needs of growing urban populations in developing countries.

Financial Sourcing & Planning

The Report also sets out clear financial implications linked to the requirement for sustainable planning. The report contends that the following steps are necessary:-

  • A climate-sensitive realignment of savings and expenditure
  • An evolution of global and national financial systems.
  • A potential redirection of 5% to 10% of the annual capital revenues in addition to climate-friendly allocation of public investments.
  • A potential incentivising of the redirection of savings from speculative and precautionary investments towards long-term productive low-emission assets and services.
  • A strategic mobilisation of institutional investors and mainstreaming of climate finance within financial and banking system regulation.

Essential Characteristics for Energy Sourcing & Supply

The Report outlines various energy supply characteristics necessary for achieving the 1.5oC target which are likely to have a significant impact on planning and design. These characteristics include:

  • A growth in the share of energy derived from low carbon-emitting sources (including renewables, nuclear, and fossil fuel with Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS)
  • A decline in the overall share of fossil fuels without CCS.
  • A rapid decline in the carbon intensity of electricity generation simultaneous with further electrification of energy end-use.
  • A switching from fossil fuels to electricity in the transport and the residential sector.
  • A growth in the use of CCS applied to fossil and biomass carbon

For advice on tackling these prescient issues contact EES Consultants.

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