Posted Nov 1 2021 | By


The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) has now begun, hosted in Glasgow over the next week, from 31 October to 12 November 2021.

COP26 is extremely important, as six years on (delayed by a year due to the pandemic) following the creation of the Paris Agreement at COP21, this is where countries will update their plans for reducing emissions. Unfortunately, the commitments laid out in Paris have not come close to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, and the window for achieving this is closing.

Therefore, going forward to 2030 will be crucial and we hope to see a policy to put us on track for 1.5C is made by the UK and all countries this year. Some other announcements could include:

  • Making a faster switch to electric cars
  • Speeding up the phasing out of coal power
  • Cutting down fewer trees
  • Protecting more people from the impacts of climate change, such as funding coastal-defence systems.

In terms of the construction industry, we hope that the conference achieves climate action that sees the banning of fossil fuels as an energy source for all new developments and other existing buildings where possible. We hope to see new incentives, targets and financial investment in retrofit, such as:

  • Scaling up retrofit agenda for all buildings expected to stay in use
  • Reducing VAT (0%) on retrofit and refurbishments
  • Ensuring all new buildings meet LETI Net Zero Operational Carbon target
  • Ensuring all buildings measure whole life carbon impacts (including embodied carbon).

Ultimately the future is in our hands. As architects and designers we are in a position where our profession can make a difference. We can use our expertise to make a real difference day-to-day. We must educate ourselves to understand ultra-low energy design – a lot of energy consumption is locked into the design of the building, such as window proportions and orientation. This does not cost clients additional money and makes a massive difference to the amount of energy that a building uses.

The programme for COP26 is available here. You can virtually attend many of the events via the COP26 YouTube channel.