Architects worldwide to phase out carbon by 2050

At the International Union of Architects (UIA) World Congress last week, member organizations representing over 1.3 million architects in 124 countries worldwide unanimously adopted the 2050 Imperative, a declaration to eliminate CO2 emissions in the built environment by 2050.  

As important, all of the regional Architect Councils of Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa also signed on to the declaration, something that is unparalleled in the 65-year history of the UIA.

The 2050 Imperative was initiated and drafted by Architecture 2030, then delivered subsequently by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to the UIA World Congress in Durban, South Africa. Australian Institute of Architects CEO David Parken, with support from UIA President Albert Dubler, guided the 2050 Imperative through a number of committees and introduced it onto the floor of the Congress where it was unanimously adopted on August 8.

The 2050 Imperative states that:

  • failing to act now on climate change will put future generations, and those already affected by extreme weather, natural disasters, and poverty, at great risk;
  • urban areas are responsible for over 70 percent of global CO2 emissions, mostly from buildings;
  • over the next two decades an area roughly equal to 60 per cent of the world’s building stock will be built and rebuilt in urban areas; and
  • this provides an unprecedented opportunity to reduce fossil fuel CO2 emissions to zero by 2050.

The UIA is committed to influencing ethical and socially responsible development throughout the world. With the adoption of the Imperative, member organizations are charged with promoting the planning and design of carbon neutral cities, towns, urban developments, and new buildings, in order achieve the 2050 target. 

"We're delighted that the UIA has adopted the 2050 Imperative. We look forward to working with all UIA member organizations to ensure that their architects and planners can meet its goals," says Ed Mazria, founder and CEO of Architecture 2030.

The action items in the 2050 Imperative are based in part on the recent “Roadmap to Zero Emissions” developed by Architecture 2030 and presented at the UN Climate Change meeting in Bonn, Germany on June 10, 2014.

“We have made great strides towards a sustainable built environment, but we still need to advance the industry to make sustainable design the de facto standard for all construction projects,” said AIA President, Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA. "Sustainable design practices implemented by the world’s architects will mitigate climate change and ultimately save lives.”