As this edition of +Impact will be given to all delegates and attendees at the Green Building Council South Africa’s 2021 Convention entitled ONE PLANET ONE CHANCE, I felt it was apt to discuss the issue of climate change in this edition’s Editor’s Note.

As Lisa Reynolds, CEO of the GBCSA says:

“ONE is a call to action, to stand up and take responsibility as an individual. To unite as ONE in our mission to effect meaningful change and to save the world for future generations.

“Our annual green building conventions provide a wealth of exposure to leading local and international thoughts and ideas. Information and knowledge sharing is one of the best ways to progress your sustainability journey – whether it is well-established or only just beginning.”

Another big event happening is the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, and is the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference. The latest round of global climate talks will take place from 31 October to 12 November 2021 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. Thousands of government delegates and people from civil society, business and the media will gather to advance climate action. The world will be watching and demanding that national leaders rise to the moment, given the mounting climate crisis and far-reaching consequences for a livable future. Science confirms we have reached a “code red” for our world.

COP26 must be a turning point. It must deliver bold, large-scale and rapid actions by national leaders, for people and the planet. Countries must come together and collaborate to rebuild trust, re-energise action, and deliver in full on the promises made in the Paris Agreement.

Three top priorities are:

  • Keep global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius through rapid, bold emissions cuts and net-zero commitments.
  • Increase international finance for adaptation to at least half the total spent on climate action.
  • Meet the existing commitment to provide US$100-billion in international climate finance each year so that developing countries can invest in green technologies, and protect lives and livelihoods against worsening climate impacts.

The most recent report, prepared by 234 scientists from 66 countries, highlights that human influence has warmed the climate at a rate that is unprecedented in, at least, the last 2 000 years.

In 2019, atmospheric CO2 concentrations were higher than at any time in at least two-million years, and concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide were higher than at any time in the last 800 000 years.

Global surface temperature has increased faster since 1970 than in any other 50-year period over a least the last 2 000 years. For example, temperatures during the most recent decade (2011–2020) exceed those of the most recent multi-century warm period, around 6 500 years ago, the report indicates.

Meanwhile, global mean sea level has risen faster since 1900, than over any preceding century in at least the last 3 000 years.

The document shows that emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are responsible for approximately 1.1°C of warming between 1850-1900 and finds that averaged over the next 20 years.

It’s our planet, and while we know it is in crisis, we also know that solutions are in reach. Progress is already well underway, from more green energy to more secure food supplies. And the benefits are clear as well, such as green jobs, clean air and sounder economies. A more sustainable, prosperous world is in reach. Global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of heating but there is still time to limit climate change, experts say. Strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases, could quickly make air quality better, and in 20 to 30 years global temperatures could stabilise.

The time for decisive meaningful action is now. Our planet and everything and everyone on it demand it for a future to look brighter ahead.

Robbie Stammers