Royal Institute of British Architects declares climate emergency

SA: This is important, but it needs to be followed by definitive action to get to zero fossil fuel use.  If not, it will be just one more coat of greenwash.  Troublingly in that direction, the RIBA’s statement says “the Ethics and Sustainable Development Action Plan will include measurable actions to support a net zero carbon built environment.”

This shows either a willful or negligent misunderstanding of what we face:  net zero carbon is not enough.  Net zero carbon is an implication that it will be alright to use fossil fuels as long as they are offset by an equal amount of sequestration.  But the climate crisis demands more.  If we were to have only net zero operations, then the atmospheric concentration of CO2 would still remain too high for safety.  There is no way to offset emissions and draw excess carbon down at the same time.  “Real” zero carbon is needed:  that is, no more CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions AND a planet-wide effort to drawdown excess CO2 to safe levels.   THAT will be radically transformative.


The Royal Institute of British Architects has declared a state of climate emergency, committing to a five-year plan of action for climate change.

The decision to formally acknowledge the role that architects have in causing climate change and alleviating it was made at a council meeting of the RIBA.

“The climate emergency is the biggest challenge facing our planet and our profession,” said RIBA president Ben Derbyshire.

“But to have a significant impact we need to do more than make symbolic statements – we need to turn warm words into impactful actions.”

“We architects need to transform the way we practice and along with our fellow professionals around the world, make changes that will impact at a global level,” added Derbyshire.

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