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Oid conference Report

06 January 2020

How can the real estate sector adapt to a 2-degree or even a 4-degree world?

Oid conference Report

The OID (Green Building Observatory) tackled this subject as part of the 11th conference of the Real Estate & Outlooks cycle, which was held at the La Française headquarters, in partnership with Plan Bâtiment Durable (a sustainable building organisation) and the Paris City Council.

The conference was introduced by Laurent Jacquier-Laforge, Global Head of Sustainable Investing – La Française, and hosted by Gérard Degli-Esposti, Director of Real Estate SRI and Chairman of the OID.

The talk was given during the first session by Catherine Larrère, the philosopher and emeritus professor at Paris’s Sorbonne University, who approached this complex subject from the perspective of environmental ethics, citing an extract from “The Spirit of Laws” by Montesquieu (1689-1755).

This step back in time enables us to reframe the issue of the relationship between humanity and nature. Catherine Larrère invites us to reflect on this relationship. Today, the whole Earth system has been impacted by industrial societies because the creations of humanity outlive them (Henning Mankell). Climate change is the eventual result, not because it was what we sought, but because it was something we hadn’t thought about.

The period in which humans have had the biggest influence on nature (the Anthropocene) will have consequences that continue beyond the extinction of humanity (such as radioactive waste, climate change, the erosion of biodiversity, etc.).

Living differently on the earth

Knowing what to do is not enough, we need to know how to do it, and the work of philosophers may help us in this task. For a long time, our approach has been to conquer, dominate and discipline nature through power, exploitation and destruction...but do we have to turn our backs on the past completely? How can we include nature in morality?

Our existence is short (the time of humans, of economies and politics), while nature endures.

An appropriate period is one that corresponds to both the lifespan of humans and of nature; and the right approach is to consider humanity as part of nature, and no longer talk about humanity AND nature.

Talking about nature with respect is not enough because the creations of humanity interlock with nature and outlive them. The question is: what will be our legacy?

The ethics of nature cannot be separated from the ethics of humanity. While the actions of humans have made us vulnerable to nature, we now needs to engage in a more moral relationship with nature by developing environmental ethics and ethics of care: living differently on the earth.

This philosophical introduction was followed by a roundtable discussion with the participation of Jérôme Duvernoy, (Observatoire National sur les Effets du Réchauffement Climatique), Jérôme Gatier, (Plan Bâtiment Durable) and Stéphanie Chevallier (Nexity).

A review of the outlook for the climate set out by Jérôme Duvernoy put the increase in temperature in France at +1.5°C since 1900, with, in 2050, 50% of urban forests at a high risk of fire and a water shortage of 3 billion m3. This was followed by the presentation of an innovative urban redevelopment project that takes account of the natural environment and the sharing of examples of good practice.

The second section of the conference focused more on climate modelling and adaptation solutions, looking at past changes in the climate, future trends and ways to apply these to the construction of buildings going forward.

You can find videos of the conference on the OID’s YouTube channel.

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