Time to end apathy on the climate crisis

Climate crisis illustration

Source: Scott Garrett

Some big investors are backing moves to limit the industrial sector’s carbon footprint, but can the rest of the sector be convinced of the financial benefits?

If anyone needed reminding of the very real impact the climate crisis is having and will continue to have on the UK, that week in July offered an uncomfortable glimpse into the future.

But despite the infrastructure-wrecking potential of extreme weather events, evidence suggests that the climate emergency is not an issue keeping property investors awake at night.

The latest RICS global survey of commercial and construction market professionals found that 47% of UK investor respondents were not concerned about climate change, with just 25% reporting greater interest in energy-efficient buildings than two years previously and 37% saying investment in energy-efficient buildings was limited to niche investors.

Most construction industry respondents stated that although investors expressed interest in resilience-related factors such as energy efficiency and disruptive technology, investment decisions were still based on more traditional considerations of cost.

How long this apathy towards climate risk can continue is open for debate. In May, the UK government set a target for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Given that the rate of progress on decarbonisation already falls short of the previous 80% reduction target, most commentators agree that achieving net-zero emissions will require a radical shift in economic and industrial policy that will have an impact on every business operating in the UK.

So should investors in industrial property be more concerned about the climate impact of their portfolios – and how should they tackle the threat?

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