This article was originally published on Common Edge.
Most of the news coming out of the recently completed climate summit in Glasgow was disappointing. Previous summits had ended in similarly dispiriting ways, and COP26 was no exception. It acknowledged the severity of the problem and the urgency of the moment—the need to keep warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius (some scientists believe it’s already too late to prevent this)—but put off making the hard commitments necessary to actually solve the problem. At the same time, this summit did feel different. There was a sense of urgency in the Glasgow streets, and the world’s attention was undeniably focused on climate change. How this focus eventually translates into action on the political front remains an open question.
But architect Edward Mazria, executive director of Architecture 2030, believes that despite the immense obstacles facing climate activists, the building sector is on the cusp of helping change the course of the planet. He sees genuine reasons for hope and renewed effort. In the wake of the seemingly grim news out of Glasgow, I spoke with him last week about the way forward, how we’ve reached an important inflection point, why energy use tied to buildings has begun to decline globally, and the steps required to fully decarbonize the built environment.