The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) repeatedly warns that ‘large, immediate and unprecedented global efforts to mitigate greenhouse gases’ are urgently needed to curb the destructive effects of global warming.1 The built environment is a large contributor to these emissions, being responsible for about 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint.2 In addition, the social and ecological costs of materials, as well as the role of the built environment in environmental degradation and injustice, can no longer be ignored.

To take action now, the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) founded ESALA Climate Action, a student and staff group aiming to tackle the Climate Emergency in our pedagogy, research, and community practices. Released to coincide with the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, and with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Festival of Social Science, this website, alongside a printed folded poster, highlights some of the research and teaching that pertains to the impacts of the built environment on climate change happening at ESALA. It also identifies the key areas for action we are committed to addressing as a School. This is a celebration of ongoing efforts as well as a call to action for the work that lies ahead.

Research and education have a fundamental role to play in imagining a more socially and environmentally just future for all. As a School and community, we aim to contribute to ongoing discussions and to nurture ambitious and innovative responses to these challenges in the context of the climate emergency and the associated socio-ecological crises.

1 IPCC, “Chapter 3: Impacts of 1.5° of Global Warming on Natural and Human Systems”, in Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5°, 2020, 177.
2 “Climate Change. UKGBC’s vision for a sustainable built environment is one that mitigates and adapts to climate change”, UKGBC, accessed September 24, 2021, https://www.ukgbc.org/climate-change/

ESALA Climate Action would like to thank ESALA staff and students who contributed to this website as well as the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Festival of Social Science for their financial support.