Tulane professor among international experts to produce landmark UN report on climate change

Jesse M. Keenan, a professor at the Tulane School of Architecture, is among dozens of international experts involved in writing and editing a new UN report on the state of climate change. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

Jesse M. Keenanassociate professor in the School of Architecture at Tulane University, is among dozens of scholars and scientists who have spent the past four years writing and editing a recently released United Nations report on the state of climate change.

the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Sixth Assessment Report: Mitigating Climate Change provides an up-to-date global assessment of global emissions trajectories and corresponding progress in reducing those emissions. It explains the evolution of emissions reduction and mitigation efforts, as well as the impacts of national climate commitments against long-term emissions goals.

Keenan served as editor of the buildings chapter, which focuses on how buildings can be designed, constructed, managed, operated and used in a way that reduces greenhouse gases and promotes environmental and social sustainability. .

“The report highlights the essential role that architects, developers and planners play in both reducing emissions and promoting social and environmental sustainability.”

Jesse M. Keenan

“It took us years to complete this work in dialogue with national governments and thousands of global experts and stakeholders,” said Keenan, who was appointed by the US State Department and appointed by the Nations United to serve as editor. “The chapter examines both high and low technology in the context of active and passive designs applied to different geographic regions of the world.”

The gist of the report, which covers everything from buildings and transport to agriculture and industry, is that nations need to act much faster to reduce fossil fuel emissions. Otherwise, the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, or 2.7F, will likely not be met by 2050, as set out in the Paris Agreement, an international treaty on climate change.

“The report highlights the critical role that architects, developers and planners play in both reducing emissions and promoting social and environmental sustainability,” Keenan said.

“Buildings are designed and constructed very differently around the world, reflecting unique environments, resources and cultures. Our work highlights this diversity and recognizes the many forms of knowledge needed to advance environmental sustainability.

Buildings account for 21% of greenhouse gas emissions, Keenan said. They include direct emissions, such as heating and cooling systems; indirect emissions, which occur off-site and are related to the production of heat and electricity; and embodied emissions from the production, transport and installation of construction materials used in buildings.

“We have the tools, materials, designs and technologies to advance social and environmental sustainability,” Keenan said. “As consumers of buildings, we all play a vital role in reducing greenhouse gases, whether it’s using less space or investing in the energy efficiency of our homes. But, as educators, we have the opportunity to translate this knowledge to guide the next generation of designers and developers in building a more sustainable and equitable built environment. »

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