"Around the world storms, floods and wildfires are intensifying. Air pollution sadly affects the health of tens of millions of people and unpredictable weather causes untold damage to homes and livelihoods too. But while the impacts of climate change are devastating, advances in tackling it are leading to cleaner air, creating good jobs, restoring nature and at the same time unleashing economic growth.
Despite the opportunities we are not acting fast enough. To avert this crisis, countries need to join forces urgently."
UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021
From 31 October – 12 November 2021, the UK, together with Italy, will host an event many believe to be the world’s last best chance to get runaway climate change under control. For nearly three decades the UN has been bringing together almost every country on earth for global climate summits or COPs - which stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’. This year will be the 26th annual summit – giving it the name COP26.
With the UK as President, COP26 takes place in Glasgow. More than 190 world leaders are expected to arrive in Scotland. Together with tens of thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens for twelve days of talks.
Most experts believe COP26 has a particular urgency. Under the Paris Agreement, countries committed to bring forward national plans setting out how much they would reduce their emissions - known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or ‘NDCs’. They agreed that every five years they would come back with an updated plan that would reflect their highest possible ambition at that time.
The run up to this year’s summit in Glasgow is the moment (delayed by a year due to the pandemic) when countries update their plans for reducing emissions. But, the commitments laid out in Paris did not come close to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, and the window for achieving this is closing. The decade out to 2030 will be crucial. So as momentous as Paris was, countries must go much further to keep the hope of holding temperature rises to 1.5 degrees alive.
At Forbo Flooring Systems, we support the objectives that have been set for this year's COP26. We take pride in being actively involved in the dialogue by close contact with policy makers and influencers to share our views and solutions where we can.
Connect with us online as we follow the news and developments at and around this seminal event. In three interviews, which will be published on 29 October, 12 November and 24 November, we will keep you informed on the expectations, the progress and the result of the COP26 talks.
Special guest are, among others, WorldGBC CEO Cristina Gamboa and Maurits Groen, communications consultant, activist and entrepreneur who deals with environmental and development issues. Learn more about what they think are the greatest challenges for the COP26 and what hopes and ambitions they both have for the coming weeks.
Be sure to keep an eye out for these interviews via our social channels and website!
Countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets (NDCs) that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century. To deliver on these stretching targets, countries will need to accelerate the phaseout of coal, encourage investment in renewables, curtail deforestation and speed up the switch to electric vehicles.
The global building stock is estimated to grow from 223 billion m2 to 415 billion m2 by 2050 but construction and building operations nearly account for 40% of CO2 emissions.
With our Marmoleum CO2 neutral product range, Forbo Flooring Systems contributes to a better environment by producing a product that does not affect the worldwide climate change. Photosynthesis of all plants used in Marmoleum, realises a CO2 uptake that is larger than the CO2 emission caused by transport and production processing, making Marmoleum CO2 neutral from cradle to gate.
Whilst we are also extremely proud of our transition over to 100% green electricity and current trials with biogas, we must remain open to new approaches to the manufacturing of all our products.
The climate is already changing and it will continue to change even as we reduce emissions, with devastating effects. At COP26 we need to work together to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change to protect and restore ecosystems, build defences and make infrastructure and agriculture more resilient to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and lives.
In 2020, we performed a Materiality Analysis of the business based on stakeholder priorities around the themes of health & wellbeing, environmental impact and social responsibility, among others. The resulting matrix identified some very specific goals for us to focus on in our 5-year Sustainability 2025 programme. These range from improving indoor air quality by reducing product emissions, fine dust & allergy triggers, creating a workplace that is safe and healthy through the provision of sports and exercise activities, offering smoking cessation programmes and auditing suppliers for SA8000 on social accountability.
For us, as a responsible manufacturer, the careful use of all resources for a sustainable future is a guiding principle. Our linoleum floor coverings are made from natural, rapidly renewable raw materials and are biodegradable and CO2 neutral (cradle to gate) without offsetting. And in the manufacture of our heterogeneous vinyl floor coverings, for example, we use the latest in phthalate-free plasticizers with a base layer containing up to 45% recycled material.
We can only rise to the challenges of climate change by working together. The formal responsibility of the COP26 is to reach agreement in the negotiations. Doing so will help deliver on the other goals and show everyone that the world is moving to a resilient, net zero economy. We must finalise the Paris Rulebook (the rules needed to implement the Paris Agreement) and we have to turn our ambitions into action by accelerating collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society to deliver on our climate goals faster.
Market competition has by definition fostered short-sightedness. However, none of us can escape the potential impact of failure to address the topics set out in the Paris Climate Agreement. Any solution to the crisis we as an industry are facing demands cooperation, collaboration and participation between stakeholders. Co-producers and manufacturers of building materials must put their heads together to come up with hard-hitting solutions. Whether it be to pool research activities or explore collection and sorting schemes for cut-offs and end-of-life products, there is a shared responsibility to find circular solutions.
Huge progress can be made as an industry, facilitated through alliances such as the ERFMI (European Resilient Flooring Manufacturers Institute), EuFCA (European Floor Covering Association), ECRA (European Carpet & Rug Association) and MMFA (Multi-layer Modular Flooring Association), with each of whom we have strong ties.
In 2021, Forbo Flooring Systems has also joined the global action network World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), to actively participate in and influence the transformation of the building and construction sector across three strategic areas – climate action, health & wellbeing, and resources & circularity.