Friday, October 26, 2018

The IPCC calls a halt to housebuilding?

Readers of this blog will have seen repeated references to my own attempt to show how the land use planning system could make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the latest on 24 May 2018, when this,    was compared to the joint report from the TCPA and RTPI.

We should all be keeping climate change at the top of any agenda we are involved with.  I was pleased to see an RT discussion about nuclear weapons being used to describe climate change as a more imminent  threat of Mutual Assured Destruction (MADness).

We now have the latest IPCC Report which seeks to emphasise the urgency in reducing emissions to have any chance of keeping warming below 1.5 degrees. 

There are many things to say and repeat about this.  However, I feel that from the planners' point of view the most important message is that found at page 3 of the Whole Life Carbon Assessment for the Built Environment  RICS 2017  that shows how, calculated over a 60 year period, over 50% of carbon emissions attributable to housing are embodied in the building and associated infrastructure before substantial completion and occupation.  If the emissions attributable to  heating, lighting, appliances, consumer goods etc are reduced to zero, this will not mitigate any or all the emissions from the building of new dwellings. The report also makes a plea for its analysis to be reflected in planning policy and regulations!

There are a few conclusions to draw from this whole life analysis:
1. The construction of housing (and all other building) should use materials sequestering carbon such as timber, straw, lime mortar, wool, shingles, reed etc and not cement/bricks/blocks and steel.
2. The number of new builds must be reduced.  The 300,000 new dwellings a year as proposed by Government and supported by almost everybody else, including the RTPI and TCPA, is incompatible with the necessary reduction on carbon emissions.
3. Priority must be given to the alternative of subdividing our existing housing stock (including custom-splitting) so that we are actually occupying the space that is insulted and heated.

The Committee on Climate Change has been given until March 2019 to reply to the Department of Business Energy and Industry Strategy on the measures that would be necessary to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement (ie the 1.5 degree aspiration).  The above points must be made to BEIS and the CCC but also DHCLG.

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