Why climate change matters

Image credit: Sandor Szmutko/Shutterstock

Robin Lawler, trustee at Carbon Literacy Trust, sets out the big picture for sustainability and how the green agenda might fit in with UK housing going forward

At present, our attention is understandably focussed on the COVID pandemic and perhaps on the impact of Brexit – both of which have in recent days become entangled with one another. But the greatest existential crisis we face is climate change, which threatens to make large swathes of the Earth uninhabitable.

But, don’t take my word for it: watch Sir David Attenborough’s latest documentary, A Life on Our Planet. This film clearly articulates the impact of human activity of the natural environment during Sir David’s lifetime of reporting on the degradation of bio-diversity and particularly the impact of increasing CO2 emissions on the Earth’s climate. He calls this film his witness statement. But within it, Sir David also sets out his optimism for the future of the planet – if we act now.

COP26 in Glasgow this Autumn is a key opportunity for world leaders to commit to the urgent action needed to tackle the climate emergency, particularly now President Biden has recommitted the USA to climate action.

That’s what is happening on the international stage, and we should applaud leaders’ commitment. But it begs the question, what are we doing as individuals, communities, and companies? Greater Manchester (GM) Mayor Andy Burnham has led the commitment for GM to be carbon neutral by 2038 – in advance of the UK government’s 2050 target. A huge but crucial commitment.

So that’s where Carbon Literacy (CL) comes in. It’s a day’s worth of action-orientated learning to understand the science of climate change and to understand the difference we can make in our day jobs and at home.

I led the Carbon Literacy 4 Registered Providers collaboration of 20 social landlords in GM, through which more than 5,000 employees and RPs’ supply chains have received CL learning and have committed to action. This initiative has now be rolled out to consortia in South Wales and Scotland, with further interest elsewhere.

Carbon Literacy has relevance across the economy, and there are emerging sectoral collaborations. The strongest and longest-standing is the CL partnership in Media City, which is supported by BBC, ITV, Peel Holdings, and various production companies. This joint work has raised the profile of climate change as reflected in the story lines of Corrie and EastEnders, and the policy of filming within 30 miles of production firms’ bases.

In further columns, I will return to the climate change agenda as it affects housing and to share best practice.

Main image: Sandor Szmutko/Shutterstock


Robin Lawler is a Housing Digital columnist specialising in the topic of Sustainability. He formerly served as chief executive of Northwards Housing and president of the Chartered Institute of Housing.


Read next: Sustainability Showcase | Valleys to Coast Housing

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