Why do we need a Climate Action Plan now?

On August 9th 2021, IPCC published its sixth Assessment report. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produces a report every six years. The last report dates back to 2014. The world has changed a lot, we’ve experienced more extreme weather conditions than ever before, are in the middle of a global pandemic and our leaders committed to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030. But still there is a large part of the global population that is not familiar with what is happening. The lack of familiarity with sustainable development and concrete and practical action plans stop a lot of people from moving in the right direction.

“The climate we experience in the future depends on our choices today”

Valerie Masson Delmotte – IPCC

Awareness of sustainable development

Like the many countries around the world Australia lags in awareness of what sustainable development means and what can be done about it.  This is highlighted in the level of action identified in the IPCC report but is not limited to environmental impacts.  Sustainable Development must also encompass social and economic impacts and must become a central part of day to day conversations and business considerations.

The built environment not only makes a significant contribution to environmental impacts but also houses Australia’s economic and social infrastructure. 

This means the built environment has significant opportunity to improve its efforts.  Ensuring all sectors of the value chain play their part and coordinate effort will be critical, be it government, business or employees.

Small business in the built environment

Small business, which make up 97% of businesses in Australia, are ideally situated to take action and contribute to positive change. Small business tends to be action oriented but, business owners however, are also often short of time and expertise in sustainability. It is in creating awareness of the opportunity in sustainable development that lies the opportunity for business owners and their staff to take up the challenge and change the way we do business.

Doing Business for Good is Good for Business

Small businesses need to consider not only the future benefit of sustainable development and climate action but the positive impact it can have on their businesses. Think about the impact small business can make by:

  • reducing input costs through more efficient products and processes
  • supporting local supply by buying & employing locally
  • minimising material costs by reducing waste
  • improving collective impact through collaboration

An important question to answer is: “What does sustainable development mean to you?
Please take a moment to participate in our poll.

Sector versus Industry approach to sustainable development

Many small businesses rely on their industry associations to provide leadership, tools and support and Sustainable Development support and guidance should be on your association’s agenda. If it is not then make some noise!

SDG Align is working with association across the built environment to develop and deploy tools to support and small business take action and would like to hear from you about what tools your sector needs.

When it comes to Climate Action all action is good but planned and coordinated action is better. Across the built environment many sectors feel siloed or disconnected from others. Coordinated action starts with aligning the stakeholders in the built environment cycle. Start thinking as a regenerative circle really is the beginning.

The built environment life cycle

Residential and commercial dwellings have a long lasting impact on the environment. Once a building is developed and constructed there is at least 50 to 100 years of managing and servicing (maintenance) of the building. Sustainable or Circular Building become more and more popular to minimise the impact buildings have during their life span on environment , society and economy. Green, efficient and liveable buildings are the future.

We have to redesign the way we plan, construct, manage and service residential and commercial buildings and the only way we can do it is together. Our experience with Building Designers Association of Australia, Strata Community Association and Consulting Surveyors National shows that together we can move forward. It is time to take action. Together.

The following section are a brief overview of the IPCC headline statements and images as shared during the IPCC press conference on Monday August 9th 2021.

IPCC Report Headline Statements: The Current State of the Climate

IPCC statements on the current state of the climate:

  • It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.
    Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have
  • The scale of recent changes across the climate system as a whole and the present state
    of many aspects of the climate system are unprecedented over many centuries to many
    thousands of years.
  • Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in
    every region across the globe. Evidence of observed changes in extremes such as
    heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones, and, in particular, their
    attribution to human influence, has strengthened since the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).
  • Improved knowledge of climate processes, paleoclimate evidence and the response of the
    climate system to increasing radiative forcing gives a best estimate of equilibrium climate
    sensitivity of 3°C, with a narrower range compared to AR5.

Possible Climate Futures

Possible Climate futures statements from IPCC

  • Global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the mid-century under all
    emissions scenarios considered. Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded
    during the 21st century unless deep reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other
    greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.
  • Many changes in the climate system become larger in direct relation to increasing global
    warming. They include increases in the frequency and intensity of hot extremes, marine
    heatwaves, and heavy precipitation, agricultural and ecological droughts in some regions,
    and proportion of intense tropical cyclones, as well as reductions in Arctic sea ice, snow
    cover and permafrost.
  • Continued global warming is projected to further intensify the global water cycle, including
    its variability, global monsoon precipitation and the severity of wet and dry events
  • Under scenarios with increasing CO2 emissions, the ocean and land carbon sinks are
    projected to be less effective at slowing the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere.
  • Many changes due to past and future greenhouse gas emissions are irreversible for
    centuries to millennia, especially changes in the ocean, ice sheets and global sea level.

Regional Impact on Global warming

IPCC Statements on Climate Information for Risk Assessment and Regional Adaptation

  • Natural drivers and internal variability will modulate human-caused changes, especially at
    regional scales and in the near term, with little effect on centennial global warming. These
    modulations are important to consider in planning for the full range of possible changes.
  • With further global warming, every region is projected to increasingly experience
    concurrent and multiple changes in climatic impact-drivers. Changes in several climatic
    impact-drivers would be more widespread at 2°C compared to 1.5°C global warming and
    even more widespread and/or pronounced for higher warming levels.
  • Low-likelihood outcomes, such as ice sheet collapse, abrupt ocean circulation changes,
    some compound extreme events and warming substantially larger than the assessed very
    likely range of future warming cannot be ruled out and are part of risk assessment.

Limiting Future Climate Change

Limiting Future Climate change scenario statements IPCC

  • From a physical science perspective, limiting human-induced global warming to a specific
    level requires limiting cumulative CO2 emissions, reaching at least net zero CO2
    emissions, along with strong reductions in other greenhouse gas emissions. Strong, rapid
    and sustained reductions in CH4 emissions would also limit the warming effect resulting
    from declining aerosol pollution and would improve air quality.
  • Scenarios with low or very low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (SSP1-1.9 and SSP1-
    2.6) lead within years to discernible effects on greenhouse gas and aerosol
    concentrations, and air quality, relative to high and very high GHG emissions scenarios
    (SSP3-7.0 or SSP5-8.5). Under these contrasting scenarios, discernible differences in
    trends of global surface temperature would begin to emerge from natural variability within
    around 20 years, and over longer time periods for many other climatic impact-drivers (high



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