The real estate industry is split over the impact of the Covid pandemic on the climate crisis agenda, a Property Week survey has revealed.

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Almost half (49.2%) the respondents to our recent Climate Crisis Challenge Perceptions Survey said they thought the virus would accelerate the climate change agenda, while 34.5% felt it would slow it down and 16.3% felt it would have no impact.

The survey, conducted ahead of COP26 in November, also showed that 94.5% personally cared about tackling the climate crisis and 69.9% felt their organisations had strategies in place to tackle the crisis. Both figures were up on last year, when 92.3% said tackling the climate crisis mattered to them personally but only 59.8% felt their businesses were equipped to tackle it. Last year, 40.2% of respondents said they did not think or know whether their business had a strategy. This year, that figure fell to 30.1%.

UKGBC chief executive Julie Hirigoyen said: “Climate and ecological crises have become much more tangible to people as a result of the pandemic.

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“[There is] recognition that big systemic risks hit hard and suddenly — and that the cost of mitigation has to be far lower than the cost of response once they hit. The survey suggests more firms are taking this seriously. [There is] a greater level of awareness and commercial relevance – markets are starting to shift towards demanding it.”

Hirigoyen questioned the government’s new target, unveiled earlier this week, to cut UK carbon emissions 78% by 2035.

“We’re on track to miss the fourth and fifth carbon budgets,” she said. “We urgently need policies and practical solutions to enable us to deliver on this commitment, not just dream about it. If we are to take this new target seriously, government must clearly map out how it plans to tackle the carbon emissions attributable to the built environment.”