What does COP26 mean?
One of the most widely discussed and most important international climate negotiations has just taken place. The COP26, or the 26th Conference of the Parties, took place from the end of October to the middle of November in Glasgow, UK. The global climate summit invited decision makers, leaders, and delegates from all walks of life to discuss the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change with UNFCCC Countries and look to build on the Paris Climate Agreement.
But what was the purpose of COP26 and why is it important?
The COP is the chief meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and one of the main places in which they can get together with leaders of countries and businesses to discuss and share the consequences of climate change if we continue on the current path we are on. The COP26 was seen as particularly important as many scientists and non-governmental bodies have suggested we are now at a “code red” for humanity and if actions are not taken now, we will see the unhindered effects of advanced climate change.
With wide ranging agreements made and promise of action, this piece will focus on the impacts of COP26 on the home improvement sector.
Statement at COP26 on forests and land use
Timber is one of the most widely used and sold products by those in the home improvement sector and was also one of widely discussed topic at COP26. Sustainable land use and forest loss and land degradation by 2030 were both topics of discussion. Two of the outcomes were the Glasgow Leader’s Declaration of Forests and Land Use and the Global Forest Finance Pledge. The aim is to move away from dependence on forests, or at least unsustainable forestry, for production and consumption through financing sustainable management of forest and forest conservation strategies.
Zero emission vehicles: 2022 action plan
Zero Emission Vehicles, or ZEVs, are a hot topic of discussion with potential impacts on logistics globally. We are already seeing legislation requiring more electric charging stations along transport routes. The main challenges are to support the transition to zero emission vehicles. Through discussion with logistic partners, suppliers and retailers this challenge could be met, and goods could be delivered in a carbon reduced manner.
Green shipping corridors: Clydebank declaration
Another impact of logistics, although longer term, is the introduction of green shopping corridors. According to a press release, the signatories aim to establish at least six green corridors by the middle of the decade. These green corridors would be zero-emission maritime routes. The International Maritime Organization’s strategy is to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from ships in the long-term through these types of routes.
Challenges of the home improvement sector
The home improvement sector sits in a unique position to tackle sustainability on three fronts: in our own business, together as suppliers and retailers, and also, and perhaps most importantly, in the lives of our customers. There has always been a relationship between DIY and sustainability, but this relationship will have to be strengthened in the future. To remain relevant and move with the times and changing customers demands, more sustainable DIY products will have to be produced and offered. This will require some investment of resources, including financially, and time, with life-long learning playing a central role in being prepared to adapt. However, this investment should be seen as an opportunity, with advantages of taking action and adapting early to COP26 now being far-reaching.
COP26 can see as a crescendo of the sustainability activities in 2021, and also demonstrates that this topic continues to gain traction, especially looking at how younger generations are turning towards activism to have their voices heard. Events like the COP26 are necessary to get the discussion going, but what is more important is action.
The DIY and home improvement industry, which will play an essential role in sustainability of existing housing stock, can get ahead of the curve by taking action now. If this is done and a movement is created in the industry, there is a chance of rebranding the sector as “essential retail for sustainable living”, ensuring longevity for the sector.