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Climate strike backed by RIBA president and UK Green Building Council

Greta thunberg climate strike

Ben Derbyshire has joined the UKGBC in urging architects to join planned industrial action on 20 September

The global climate strike is in solidarity with the millions of pupils who have participated in the Fridays for Future school strikes in recent months, originally sparked by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

It also follows the Extinction Rebellion protests earlier this year and the declaration of a climate emergency by the UK Parliament and others, including the RIBA.

Architecture practices already known to be taking part include Bennetts Associates, Chetwoods, Mole Architects and John Gilbert Architects.

Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive at UKGBC, said: ‘We know our built environment has a huge carbon footprint, and we know it represents an enormous opportunity to decarbonise the economy.

‘Architects will be vital in tackling the climate crisis. They have a unique role to ensure that better outcomes for both people and planet arise from their designs, and I hope that many of them will join us in making our voices heard on 20 September.’

Derbyshire said: ‘September’s climate strike provides a platform for people to join forces to demand the change needed to tackle the global climate emergency. As members, we must make our own decisions about whether to participate in this initiative and how, from hosting a lunchtime discussion to joining strikers on the streets. 

‘If members can, I encourage them to do so. The RIBA continues to guide and support the profession – as architects we all have a significant role to play in addressing climate change. We must urgently engage with our clients and in our practices to identify action to reduce carbon emissions.’

In a comment piece for the AJ, Peter Fisher and Ben Hopkins of Bennetts pointed out that the UK government has still to recognise the climate emergency and said the labour strike was part of helping to create a ‘political space to make ambitious and globally binding [carbon] reductions’.

They added: ‘Who would have imagined the power a single schoolgirl sitting outside a parliament building could have?’

Mole Architects founder Meredith Bowles said his Cambridge-based office of 10 would cease working on their normal projects and spend the day writing to those in power to urge sweeping legislative change.

‘I think it’s imperative that we act,’ he said. ‘We’ve had the Architects Declare call-to-arms and that urgently needs to be converted into action. We’re going to spend the day writing to our legislative powers, both local and national, in order to assert pressure.’

Chetwoods founder Laurie Chetwood said his firm would be demonstrating its support at both its London and Birmingham bases and urged others to join it.

He said: ‘The Climate crisis is an issue for the whole of humanity, not just school children. We believe that architects can offer holistic thinking like no other profession and we believe that now is the time to prove it.

‘Whilst the pioneering few are seeing the benefits of sustainable design, other clients still will not see past the bottom line and this is where we need incentives (carrot) and legislation (stick) from our country’s leaders to speed up the transition. We invite all to join us and participate in the global action.’

Thunberg said recently of the proposed action in September: ‘We need everyone … if it’s not you who should do it, then who else? If not now, then when?’


Readers' comments (12)

  • this comment section is evidence enough that we aren't at all ready as an industry!

    Is any practice actually giving their staff time off without using annual leave? Is there any practice that is following this for the full week not just the first day?

    What about Ben Derbyshire's employees? Are they really getting paid time off or is this just virtue signalling?

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  • Hello climate change denier regulars

    By commenting with your practice name and disagreeing with all respected scientists are you not massively damaging your reputation and effectively admitting that you have no technical, scientific or engineering ability as a firm? How could you be trusted to carry out research and development if you are happy to discount the vast majority of scientists based on no real evidence.

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