homenews and insights cop26 for smart buildings

All about COP26 for the building controls industry

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By James Wilson and Euan Donald
17 October 2021

Graduate Sales Engineers

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November 2021 will see the UK host COP26, which is the 26th United Nations climate change conference. As this is one (if not the) most prominent climate conference on the calendar, the volume of marketing materials, news stories, blogs, vlogs and social media posts related to the event is mind-boggling. If like SSE Smart Buildings, you would like to know more about the event with a lean towards how it related to the building industry then there is a lot of information to trawl through. We already have, so you don’t need to.

There are sections covering a range of topics including a brief history of COP, COP26’s main objectives, a broad summary of who is involved in COP26 and relevant events for those in the building and construction industry (plus how you can get involved). So leave your inhibitions at your well-insulated door and get ready for all the key COP26 information.

A brief history of COP

United Nations (UN) members have been hosting climate change events for nearly three decades. These are commonly referred to as COPs or Conference of the Parties. For COP26, the UK is acting as host (although it is working in partnership with Italy to operate as COP26 President) and the conferences will be taking place in Glasgow. Part of the hype of COP events is that historically there have been major environmental agreements successfully negotiated at the events. Two of the most famous are the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris agreement – and both of which have been major contributors to the fight against climate change. While the main press coverage will be on the negotiations between world leaders, there are tens of thousands of government officials, negotiators, business representatives and members of the public involved in the twelve days of talks.

The main objectives of COP26

There are four main objectives to COP26. They are as follows:

  • Secure global net zero by mid-century to keep a 1.5ºC increase temperature within reach
  • Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
  • Mobilise finance (developed countries have previously promised to mobilise at least $100bn in climate finance per year by 2020)
  • Work together to deliver these objectives As buildings are a major contributor to emissions and energy use, and they have a significant impact on natural habits, it goes without saying that the built environment has a significant role to play in helping COP26 meet its goals.

Who is involved in COP26

The short answer is everyone. Well, everyone with access to the internet or a news feed. Breaking this down somewhat there are expected to be over 100 world leaders at the event. These include names such as Boris Johnson, Nicola Sturgeon and Joe Biden. There are also celebrities who are climate change advocates, such as Sir David Attenborough, Her Majesty the Queen, Greta Thunberg and Pope Francis. There are eleven ‘Principal Partners’ sponsoring the event. These include; Sky, Sainsbury’s, The National Grid, Microsoft and SSE. There is also a small army of volunteers helping make sure dignitaries and the general public can navigate their way around Scotland without getting lost or carried away by a peckish Loch Ness Monster. As a member of the public, there are several ways to get involved. If you work for some non-government organisations (NGOs) or inter-government organisations you may be able to attend under ‘observer’ status. That said, if you are not aware of this by now it is possibly a little late in the day to join. There are also warm-up events for COP26. These include the 16th UN Conference of Youth that runs from 28th to 30th October. Certain key partners for COP26 are also hosting associated events. For example, SSE is involved in a series of debates around decarbonisation that will be streamed free online.

You can sign up for these events here.

During these, speakers from industry, government, academia, and NGOs will come together to share insights into the major challenges on the road to sustainability and discuss potential solutions. The events focus on sectors that must play a major role in the decarbonisation of the UK. These include finance and investment, energy, food and agriculture, building and architecture, automotive, air travel, shipping, policy, science and innovation.

Events related to the building industry

SSE’s Smart Buildings division will be heavily involved in the online event centred on buildings and architecture, again, you can sign up for this event using the button below. The panel will be discussing the following areas:

  • 28% of UK carbon emissions are from operational energy use in buildings. Starting tomorrow this could be reduced by 20-30%, but it isn’t happening!
  • 80% of the buildings that will be in use in 2050 have already been built. Why is there so much focus on new build, and not renovation?

If you have any follow up questions or would like to know more about COP26, then please contact SSE Smart Buildings direct using the button below.