RIBA backs school climate strikes as Greta Thunberg sets sail across Atlantic

The biggest school climate strike to date

Also dubbed Fridays4Future, the movement was started by teenage activist Greta Thunberg last year and has garnered the support of millions of children and young people across the world, as well as high-level politicians and business leaders.

RIBA’s call to action is for the next round of planned action involving industry, which is due to begin on 20 September and last for a week. The body has already confirmed that Bennetts Associates, Chetwoods, Mole Architects and John Gilbert Architects are taking part, and is encouraging other practices of all sizes to follow suit. 

“We must urgently engage with our clients and in our practices to identify action to reduce carbon emissions,” 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.”

Derbyshire’s call to action comes shortly after the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) voiced its support for the SchoolStrike4Climate movement.

The Council, which represents more than 400 organisations across the built environment sector, has notably been campaigning for better policy support for the transition to net-zero for more than a year. It recently published a landmark framework outlining how developers, designers, owners, occupiers and policymakers can define and deliver a net-zero built environment – a document which was co-created by key industry stakeholders over a six-month period.

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

Sink or swim

RIBA’s call to action comes in the same week that Thunberg, 16, is due to set sail from Plymouth to New York in order to prepare for next month’s UN Climate Action Summit.

She will be making the journey in a 60ft yacht that has been fitted with 1.3kW of solar panels and two underwater turbines, in a bid to complete a zero-carbon voyage.

The vessel, which has no kitchen or toilets, will be manned by experienced skippers Boris Hermann and Pierre Casiraghi. Also making the journey with Thunberg is her father, Svante, and her cameraman, Nathan Grossman.

Thunberg is widely known for refusing to fly or drive to conferences and meetings, opting instead for public transport.

Speaking to the BBC ahead of her voyage, she said that travelling by boat sends a signal that “the climate change crisis is a real thing”.

Sarah George

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