COP26 to focus on Climate Resilient Housing

by M. Wasim

The 26th edition of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) to the UNFCCC kicks off in Glasgow. The summit brings parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The main focus of the COP26 would surely be the Article 6 of Paris Agreement and climate financing for developing world. However, the COP26 must also address accessible green housing and ensure safer and climate-resilient homes in climate-vulnerable countries including Pakistan, as climate related disasters make 14 million people homeless every year.

For the annual climate summit this year, a model of zero-carbon home naming the COP26 House has also been displayed. It is a demonstration to the world how affordable and desirable homes can be constructed with minimal impact on the environment. However, housing is no longer only about providing shelter from rain, wind, heat and cold, it ensures safety of livings too in recent times. Therefore owing to the perils of Climate Change, disaster-resilient housing is an urgent need which can reduce the loss of life, livelihoods and homes in disasters.

COP26 & Pakistan

For Pakistan the COP26 is a platform to strongly showcase its achievements like billion tree tsunami program and decrease in carbon emission in recent years. But shouldn’t skip its vulnerabilities, as the country has been facing the worst impacts of climate change in the forms of short-span heavy rains, flash floods, unprecedented land-sliding incidents, glacial melting, air pollution and fast diminishing water resources.

Pakistan’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for the Summit aim for an ambitious 50% reduction in emissions on the top by 2030 subject to the provision of $100 billion climate finance.

Notwithstanding, homelessness is a big offshoot of climate change in Pakistan this year. As Save the Children (international humanitarian organization) reveals in a write-up on October 21, 2021; “During the current monsoon more than 4 million people have been impacted by the floods, mostly in Sindh.” It also states “as many as 1.4 million children face homelessness and disease following some of the worst ever floods in Pakistan”.  

Global Climate Change Impacts

Around the world, impact of climate change is devastating. As storms, floods and wildfires have intensified while air pollution has enormously increased; affecting the health of tens of millions of people. This unpredictable weather causes untold damage to innumerable houses; disrupting livelihoods all over. So, housing to withstand extreme weather events is one of the best and most cost-effective ways of adapting to a changing climate.

Climate scientists have repeatedly stressed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to tackle rising global temperatures, but housing needs to be prioritized at the highest levels during the COP26 to ensure better, safer, and more equitable homes. Participant nations need to recognize, prioritize and invest in resilient housing’s role in climate resilience in the same way that they are prioritizing other basic needs.

Climate-Resilient Housing

Safe and secure housing should be a fundamental human right. Yet, every year climate related disasters already make 14 million people homeless. And, as the effects of climate change become more severe, this number will only soar higher. The model of COP26 House with feature of zero carbon emission has already been showcased in Glasgow for conference’ participants. However, climate impacts can also be minimized by sourcing materials locally, as they are more likely to withstand the changes that are expected in the coming decades.

Besides, use of retrofitting and recycled materials is also a climate-smart strategy, since it avoids carbon emissions that would result from new construction and can, in many cases, also make a home more energy-efficient.

The world is also becoming more urban, with 2.3 billion more people predicted to live in cities by 2050. But as statistics currently stands, 40% of the world’s population will live in substandard housing by 2030. Therefore global housing will need to adapt even further, because the housing we have now won’t meet humans’ needs in upcoming calamities.


Editorial, Infocus

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