So now that 2023 gains momentum we have been looking back and reflecting on the various ‘Conferences of the Parties’ or COPs that took place last year. The UN organised several in 2022 including COP12 to address biodiversity, COP27 to address climate change, and COP19 to address endangered species of fauna and flora, to name just a few.

So, what does that mean for us in the construction industry? How will our lives change or rather will we notice any tangible change following these conferences? Probably not immediately but it is something to be aware of in the future.

We all recognise the complexity of climate and biodiversity. Climate change is the main driver of biodiversity loss and consequent ecosystem destruction that inhibits nature’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and extreme weather events. There is increasingly a bilateral approach to address the ongoing climate crisis throughout the UK. COP26, which was held in Glasgow in 2021, built on this understanding and saw the signing of the ‘Pledge for Nature’ which in part recognised nature’s ability to sequester or store carbon.

As we know, international commitment can take a long time to forge impactful changes not only in the UK but worldwide. At the start of 2023 and after subsequent COPs we can still see that policy has not caught up yet or evolved to take a more bilateral approach. There is a lack of detail in nature-based solutions and green infrastructure beyond peat restorations, woodland creation, and management. Urban greening standards for housing and infrastructure could be reviewed to set achievable, meaningful, and manageable targets. There is also a lack of clear targets for managing rural land to reduce agricultural/ land use emissions here in the UK.

But it is not all doom and gloom, there are positives that the UK is implementing including the incorporation of Biodiversity Net Gain of 10% on developments in England.  Just this one target will help achieve the three main goals originally set out in COP26.

At ACD we increasingly see the collaboration between our arboriculturists, ecologists, and landscape architects as an invaluable asset in the climate crisis. We are fortunate to work within an industry that can make a real difference to biodiversity, climate change, and endangered species of fauna and flora.