Leadership on Carbon


Representatives from almost 200 countries recently got together in Paris to thrash out a deal on climate change. Here at British Land, we are really pleased that the new treaty gives greater certainty about the scale and pace of energy change needed to put the world on a pathway to lower emissions.

There is an overwhelming majority of climate scientists who believe that humans are causing climate change. This is a serious issue, but one that we all have the power to do something about.

British Land has achieved 39% carbon reductions across our like-for-like portfolio since 2009 and we’re targeting a 55% landlord energy intensity total portfolio reduction by 2020. We’ve also been ranked in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Disclosure Leadership Index for five years, scoring 100% for disclosure in 2015.

From Paris 2015, we were hoping for a durable, clear, fair and ambitious global deal for a low carbon future, so business has the confidence and mechanisms to invest. The new treaty is a major milestone. Now, political and business attention can focus on turning these new international commitments into reality at a national level.

Below is British Land’s position on climate change.

What is happening?

  • A 2013 peer review found that 97% of scientific papers produced between 1991 and 2011 agreed that climate change is man-made.
  • The construction and maintenance of buildings and other structures is responsible for around half of UK carbon dioxide emissions.
  • A Populus survey in November 2014 found that 80% of the UK public did not think that action to tackle climate change could be delayed.
  • In the past decade, there has been a significant increase in climate-related legislation.
  • From local authorities to occupiers, and increasingly investors, acknowledgement of climate change and action to reduce its impact are both expected and respected.

What does this mean for us?

  • Commercial: Our actions against climate change can improve our financial returns by generating income from on-site power generation, reducing occupancy costs from energy reductions and potentially by cutting construction costs from reducing embodied carbon.
  • Risk: The scientific evidence suggests we should future proof our assets against more frequent severe weather events and particularly protect against flooding and hotter summers.
  • Integrity: We do what is right not what is easy. As long as there is a realistic chance that climate change is the result of human action, then we need to take sensible steps to protect and enhance our planet and environment.
  • Regulation: The UK Government aims to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050. Since 2009, it has been legislating to drive reductions in the built environment. In the face of this legislation, we have always remained one step ahead to give our assets competitive advantage.
  • Preference: Action on climate change can help increase our appeal for investors by protecting value and generating income; for occupiers by reducing costs and aligning with their own sustainability goals; and for Government by supporting its emission reduction targets.
  • Leadership: We are seen as the leader in the sector in the UK and a leader globally for our environmental achievements. This leadership has enhanced our reputation.

What do we do as a result of this?

  • We recognise the scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to accelerated climate change.
  • We take action to future proof our assets against the impact of climate change:
    • Protecting value by reducing flood risks.
    • Reducing occupational costs through energy efficiency and low carbon new buildings.
    • Increasing on-site energy generation.
    • Preparing for resource constraints and regulation through materials and process innovation.
    • Wherever possible, enabling our occupiers to be more resilient to climate change.
  • We work with Government to support the development of climate change policies. We particularly support consistency in policy making, which provides greater certainty and clarity for the long term, enabling industry to react more effectively to legislative changes.
  • We also work with our peers to influence best practice in the industry as a whole, participating in initiatives with Accounting for Sustainability (A4S) the Better Buildings Partnership (BBP), the British Property Federation (BPF) and the UK Green Building Council (UK GBC).
  • Acknowledging that our policy is based on scientific evidence, we keep this evidence under review.


This text was initially published on British Land's website here