Al Gore and Prince Charles call for national mobilisation as John Prescott reveals that fiscal incentives will be offered to green existing buildings

Al Gore, John Prescott and Prince Charles all warned the construction industry this week that it must take urgent action over climate change.

Al Gore
The vision thing: Al Gore called on the construction industry to introduce design initiatives to improve the built environment

In a clear endorsement of Building’s 99% Campaign, Prescott, the deputy prime minister, said the government would launch a consultation over how to retrofit the existing stock most effectively, and which fiscal measures would work best.

He said: “This is a big discussion in government at the moment. There have to be fiscal measures as well as rules and regulations.”

Prescott made the announcement at the Think conference in east London, in what is likely to be one of his last speeches in office.

Gore, the former vice-president of America, also gave a live address via video link from New Orleans during the event.

Gore said: “It is up to us to accelerate the introduction of new ideas, principles and designs and make them viable.”

He warned that a price had to be put on carbon-based pollution. Gore also praised the UK’s leadership in the fight against climate change, and compared it to the country’s stance in the Second World War.

Earlier in the day the Prince of Wales, via a live video link from St James’s Palace, had also drawn on the same analogy. He said: “Think of what they did in the last war – things that seemed impossible happened overnight.”

Meanwhile, the leaders of the UK’s construction and property sectors made 10 pledges to tackle climate change as part of the Prince of Wales’ May Day Summit and the Think conference. Delegates were asked to sign up in support of all or some of the pledges on the Think Charter during the week.

Among the 23 who devised the pledges were Stephen Stone, Crest Nicholson’s chief executive, Stanhope director Peter Rogers, architect Bill Dunster and Denise Chevin, editor of Building.

The 10 pledges were:

  • To draw up measurable, achievable, relevant, time-framed targets for reducing carbon emissions, waste and water usage, and to promote biodiversity
  • To develop measurement tools to achieve these targets
  • To halve the amount of construction waste taken tolandfill sites every two years.
  • To devise more effective renewable energy strategies
  • To encourage landlords and occupiers to share and publish data on buildings’ energy consumption to reduce emissions
  • To adopt energy labelling certificates on all buildings
  • For landlords to adopt a code that discourages the return of properties to their original state
  • To promote the use of lifecycle analysis.
  • Every building to have a master “off” switch.
  • To encourage the adoption across the construction and property industries of the May Day commitment to action.