EDITOR'S LETTER: Climate risk and social impact move up the agenda

How can publications about real estate and the built environment play a part in highlighting climate change issues? PropertyEU editor-in-chief Robin Marriott looks at some of the initiatives that are sprouting up and delves into his own green conscience.

While the argument rages on over whether Australia’s fires are a symptom of global warming, one thing is for sure. Whether it be scientific studies examining if the frequency of wildfires is increasing globally, President Trump’s disparaging remarks about teenage environment activist Greta Thunberg, or the uptick of impassioned climate change marches, the way Mother Earth is being treated by human inhabitants has risen so far up the global debate that no one can ignore it.

As Principal Real Estate Investors’ head of research and strategy, Indraneel Karlekar, puts it in the article on the 2020 outlook for investing on page 24, climate change is a ‘core conversation’ at all levels of the real estate community across the world.

I cannot argue with that.

Not only do we know that for sure from speaking with leaders of real estate players across the world, it is also so clear from individuals within the industry. If you are like me, and have many connections within property on LinkedIn, you will have seen a real rise in personal and professional postings linked to 1. the environment, and 2. socially positive investing.

The sense I get as we enter a new decade is this: more people are examining their own carbon footprint, and moreover, their social role in the world. While many people in real estate consider themselves lucky and successful in their career, they are now adding a big question: ‘But what am I doing to help?’

This new sense of awareness extends (even?!) to editors of real estate media. Behind the scenes a very informal effort has started among editors of UK publications on the built environment, asking if we are doing a good enough job at reflecting climate change issues. We – essentially rivals – are keen to get together with folk in the real estate industry to ask what else do we need to know and what can we do?

The answer is perhaps ‘plenty’. Some magazines have already started action. For example, Property Week (disclaimer: my former employer) has begun a Climate Crisis Challenge in liaison with the UK Green Building Council. There are other examples too.

PropertyEU can surely play a part given our pan-Europe position, and while we have carried many articles on climate change we could surely be more proactive. Note to self: find a real estate collaborator and see if we can make a difference.

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