The American Institute of Architects has called on members of the profession to sign an open letter to president Donald Trump, which outlines the organisation's "outright opposition" to his policies on climate change.
"We, the undersigned architects and architecture firms, are writing to alert you of our outright opposition to the Administration's stance on climate change," the letter reads.
"We feel it is critical that the US move forward as soon as possible on efforts to mitigate climate change and to help slow the rate and impact of devastating natural disasters and other increasingly dire consequences."
Trump's policies counter findings in US climate-change report
Released this month, along with a form for architects to sign, the letter responds to the Trump Administration's recent denial of climate change, despite the findings of a study the US government orchestrated.
Called the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), the 1,656-page study was released on 23 November 2018, and detailed a number of environmental changes as a result of human activity. These include scientific findings that show that the earth'ss temperature has risen by one degree Celsius since 1901.
The paper contrasts with the statements and policies issued by Trump, who has become known for refusing to believe the science behind human-induced climate change.
His plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, which pledges to reduce global carbon emissions, and relax regulations for burning fossil fuels directly counter the advice of NCA4.
Trump's White House – which reportedly hoped to bury details of NCA4 – has failed to make significant changes to its climate-change policy, prompting the AIA to pen the letter and instigate the call to action from its members.
US must "embrace" climate change reality says AIA
"The earth is warming due to human activity and if left unchecked, the consequences will be catastrophic for human life," the letter says.
"The United States needs to embrace – not reject – climate change realities and to stop ignoring critical factors that exacerbate natural disasters (and the ensuing damage)."
AIA president Carl Elefante echoed the sentiment in his statement to accompany the call to action. He called the science outlined in NCA4 "irrefutable", and highlighted similar findings in the two recent United Nations reports: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and 2018 Emissions Gap Report.
"AIA takes these reports very seriously and urges immediate and meaningful action to address the ever-increasing threats being created," Elefante said.
He is also calling on architects to act on the "moral and professional responsibility" of the industry and address climate change in their projects. He suggests it be a part of conversations with clients, industry partners and elected officials.
American architects urged to address global warming in projects
"The building sector accounts for approximately 40 per cent of current global greenhouse gas emissions," said Elefante. "We must urgently pursue strategies to reduce emissions in new and existing building stock if the global community is to adequately respond to our current emissions crisis."
This is not the first time that the nation's architects have urged Trump to take action on climate change. Ahead of his inauguration in January 2017, practices including Snøhetta, Brooks + Scarpa and Deborah Berke Partners signed an open letter asking the president-elect to reconsider his stance.
The architecture industry is particularly invested in the issue of global warming – even more so after a series of devastating and unpredictable events in the US over the past few years.
In response, a number of architects have developed proposals to make cities more resilient in the face of climate change. Boston, Miami, Houston and New York are among those planning ahead.
Read the full text of the AIA's open letter below:
Dear Mr President,
We, the undersigned architects and architecture firms, are writing to alert you of our outright opposition to the Administration's stance on climate change. We feel it is critical that the US move forward as soon as possible on efforts to mitigate climate change and to help slow the rate and impact of devastating natural disasters and other increasingly dire consequences.
The findings of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) are unequivocal: The Earth is warming due to human activity and if left unchecked, the consequences will be catastrophic for human life.
As architects, we have a moral and professional responsibility to help confront climate change. The building sector accounts for approximately 40 per cent of current global greenhouse gas emissions. We must urgently pursue strategies to reduce emissions in new and existing building stock if the global community is to adequately respond to our current emissions crisis.
The US federal government is charged with setting federal policy on the environment and is responsible for coordinating the government's response to natural and manmade disasters. Last year, one of the hottest years in modern history, was also the costliest year ever for weather disasters – setting the US back a record-setting $306 billion in spending aid and relief costs. The United States needs to embrace – not reject – climate change realities and to stop ignoring critical factors that exacerbate natural disasters (and the ensuing damage).
The undersigned firms urge you to support the recent findings from the NCA4 and the report from the U.S. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We need to continue the progress made on climate change and help negate its impact on weather patterns that directly affect humans and the built environment in which they live. Of significant note are the scientific predictions such as rising surface temperatures, sea-level rise and more extreme weather events.
According to the NCA4, Volume II, our own government states that "Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century." The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the "administrative lead agency" in the preparation of the NCA4, stated that "human health and safety" and American "quality of life" are "increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change." We are urging you to heed the notice and findings now, while we still have some time left to address many policy issues impacting the climate.
The Undersigned Architects & Firms
Photograph is courtesy of Shutterstock.
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